The key difference between lectin and lecithin is that lectin is a plant protein that has the ability to bind with carbohydrates while lecithin, which is an essential nutrient, is a fatty substance present in plants and animal tissues.
Lectin is a plant protein. It has the property of binding with carbohydrates and reducing nutrient absorption. On the other hand, lecithin is an essential fatty nutrient that naturally occurs in plants and animal tissues. Compared to lectin, lecithin provides more health benefits for us.
What is Lectin?
Lectin is a plant protein found in high concentrations in wheat, rye, barley, wheat germ, quinoa, rice, oats, millet and corn. Lectin has the ability to bind with carbohydrates. If lectin is present in large amounts in our body, it reduces the ability of our body to absorb nutrients. Lectin works as an anti-nutrient when it is present in large amounts since they block the absorption of some nutrients.
However, small amounts of lectin are beneficial and provide several health benefits. They help the good bacteria that live in human digestive systems. However, humans can’t digest lectin. They go through our gut without digesting.
What is Lecithin?
Lecithin is a fatty substance naturally found in plant and animal tissues. It is a yellow-to-brown colour substance. Lecithin provides several health benefits due to its major component phosphatidylcholines. It can lower bad cholesterols in our body. Furthermore, it is able to increase immune function, reduce digestive distress, improve memory, help in brain development and aid in breastfeeding. Due to these benefits, lecithin is taken as a supplement. Furthermore, lecithin acts as an emulsifier, and it has the ability to extend the shelf life of many preparations, including cosmetics, medicines and food, etc.
The commercial extraction of lecithin can be done from soybeans and sunflowers. However, the extractions and quality of lecithin may vary based on the source. Soybean is one of the popular sources of lecithin extraction, which is a cost-effective source. The extraction from soybean involves chemicals; hence, consuming soy-derived lecithin is less healthy than sunflower lecithin since most soybean crops are genetically modified. Moreover, the extraction is not natural, unlike sunflower lecithin. Despite the above-mentioned facts, soy lecithin is one of the most widely used food additives.
What are the Similarities Between Lectin and Lecithin?
- Both lectin and lecithin are abundant in plants.
- They provide health benefits.
- Both are taken as supplements.
What is the Difference Between Lectin and Lecithin?
Lectin is a plant protein that is able to bind with carbohydrates. In contrast, lecithin, which is an essential nutrient, is a fatty substance present in plants and animal tissues. So, this is the key difference between lectin and lecithin. Importantly, the lectin in high amounts is not good for our health since it reduces nutrient absorption. On the other hand, lecithin in high amounts is good for our health since it lowers bad cholesterol, increases immune function, reduces digestive distress, improves memory, involves in brain development and helps in breastfeeding. Therefore, this is a major difference between lectin and lecithin in terms of their function.
Summary – Lectin vs Lecithin
Lecithin is an essential nutrient. It is a fatty substance present naturally in many food sources, including animal and plant tissues. Soy lecithin and sunflower lecithin are two types of lecithin based on the source of extraction. Lectin is another substance which is of plant origin. It is a protein that has the ability to bind with carbohydrates. High amounts of lecithin are good for our health while high amounts of lectin are not good for our health. So, this summarizes the difference between lectin and lecithin.
1. Rowles, Alexandra. “6 Foods That Are High in Lectins.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 28 Apr. 2017, Available here.
2. Leonard, Jayne. “Lecithin: Benefits, Risks, and Types.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, Available here.
1. “Legume lectin quat” By Tomixdf (talk) (Uploads) – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “1-Oleoyl-2-almitoyl-phosphatidylcholine Structural Formulae V.1” By Jü – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia