Sunflower lecithin lists among the most widely used lecithin for commercial purposes.
Due to sunflower lecithin’s stabilizing and emulsifying properties, different industries use it to take full advantage of these attributes. Sunflower lecithin is produced by cold pressing sunflower seeds after dehydrating them.
Sunflower lecithin emulsifier has numerous phospholipids and fatty acids. Because of these phospholipids and fatty acids, the sunflower lecithin emulsifier is considered a natural emulsifier. It facilitates the natural combination of substances.
Moreover, the fatty acids present in it help in emulsification and smoothening of food mixtures, cosmetics manufacturing, and as a pharmaceutical raw material. Before getting into what makes sunflower lecithin a great emulsifier, first, let’s have a brief look at how it is extracted from sunflower seeds.
Extraction Process of Sunflower Lecithin
Please not that the following steps are just a glimpse of the method followed to extract lecithin from sunflower seeds. The actual process is much longer:
● The initial step involves dehydrating sunflower seeds
● After dehydration, the seeds go through a hard press to extract its oil
● Once oil has been extracted, gums and solids are separated from the oily liquid
● Finally, the gums are sent to a processing plant where they are cold pressed to extract lecithin
Now that you know how it is acquired, it’s time to talk about what makes sunflower lecithin a great emulsifier.
What Makes Sunflower Lecithin a Great Emulsifier?
Emulsifiers are compounds that have both a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic portion.
The hydrophilic end is water-loving, and the hydrophobic end is water-hating.
Because the hydrophobic end of lecithin dissolves in oil droplets and the hydrophilic end of lecithin dissolves in water, lecithin is an excellent emulsifier. When used in emulsions, lecithin prefers to be at the edge of oil droplets, where it can be both hydrophobic and hydrophilic.
The emulsion is stable for a considerable time because lecithin shields the oil droplets in the water. The unique ability of lecithin to mix oil and water together, while keeping the two separate is what makes it a great emulsifier.
Uses of Sunflower Lecithin as an Emulsifier
The EFSA and the FDA have confirmed that sunflower lecithin is safe for use as an emulsifier in the following industries:
1. Food Industry
The sunflower lecithin emulsifier is widely used in the food industry because of its ability to dissolve immiscible liquids or substances.
2. Plant Milk
The dairy industry uses the sunflower lecithin to make plant milk. People who do not consume milk from animal sources, or vegans, use plant milk.
3. Liposome Encapsulation
It is also used in liposome encapsulation. Little bubbles of vitamins or medicines can be delivered directly into targeted organs without affecting other body regions in liposomal encapsulation.
4. Dietary Supplement
Lecithin is considered an excellent dietary supplement because it contains many phospholipids and fatty acids vital for the human body.
5. Skin Care Products
The emulsifying properties of sunflower lecithin enhance the texture of skin care products like creams and ointments, while also keeping the ingredients together. The natural healing properties also contribute positively to these skincare products
Many Cosmetic products contain both oil and water. The emulsifying capabilities of lecithin assist in the efficient binding of their formulations, ultimately improving the product’s overall stability.
7. Producing New Emulsifiers
According to researchers cited in the journal “Polar Lipids”, lecithin modification under industrial settings with good analysis techniques could help analyze the sunflower by-products’ future uses in the manufacturing of novel emulsifiers.
If you compare it with Soy Lecithin, Sunflower lecithin has more safety and benefits. Sunflower lecithin also has a greater purity of phospholipids than soy lecithin due to different extraction processes. If you only require lecithin for emulsification, you can use sunflower lecithin instead of soy lecithin without worry. If anything, sunflower lecithin will make your products allergen-free.
The fact that it is completely organic or non-GMO, makes it a choice of many manufacturers. As someone who has been in the industry for years, I can assure you that sunflower lecithin is gaining popularity fast and quickly overtaking the manufacturing industry that has been dominated by soy lecithin.