Published: 07/31/2011 - Updated: 07/07/2016
Phospholipids are a structural component of the cell membrane. They are a type of lipid or fat composed of a glycerol molecule. Summarizing, we can say that the phospholipids are generally lipids containing phosphoric acid. All membranes of active cells have a double layer of phospholipids, generically called "lectins", although it is believed that lecithin is phosphatidylcholine itself.
Phospholipids in the diet
The phospholipids in the diet are a fatty acid supply and even though they are only a small fraction of the total fat in the diet, they become a major source of these acids, although minor than triglycerides.
Phospholipids are involved in important functions such as transport of lipids in plasma and play an important role in the constitution of the cell membrane and the myelin sheath of neurons.
There are several types of phospholipids. The most abundant are phosphatidylethanolamine or cephalin, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidic acid, phosphatidylcholine or lecithin and phosphatidylserine.
Roles of phospholipid:
- Activation of enzymes: they participate as second messengers involved in transmitting signals within the cell as diacylglycerol or phosphatidylcholine.
- Detergent component of bile: giving solubility of cholesterol, phospholipids, especially phosphatidylcholine in bile are indispensable. If there is insufficient production of these phospholipids and decrease their secretion of bilirubin, can form cholesterol gallstones and bile pigments.
- Components of the surfactant (a substance that prevents collapse of alveoli) Pulmonary lung for optimal performance requires a constant supply of rare phospholipid called dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine. This surfactant phospholipid is produced by type II epithelial cells and serves to prevent atelectasis (loss of lung volume) at the end of the expiratory phase of respiration.
- Synthesis of cell signaling substances: the phosphatidylcholine and fosfatidinol play the role of arachidonic for the synthesis of prostaglandins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes and related compounds.
What foods contain phospholipids?
Phospholipids are not really abundant in the diet or food, but can be found at:
- The liver, brain and heart
- The egg yolk.
- Foods containing lecithin
- Nuts and soy (in the form of lecithin)
They are sold in significant quantities as emulsifying additives for the manufacture of margarine, cheese and other foods.
Lecithin and phospholipids
Lecithin is a phospholipid that is derived from soya, but is also present in plant and animal cells. It is found in soy and egg yolk and is a mixture of certain components which have different chemical and physical properties which are called phospholipids.
The phospholipid lecithin is mixed with choline and inositol, which are considered very important factors to control cholesterol and to enable the body to get rid of fat for energy.
In addition, lecithin keeps fats in good circulation, avoiding the deposition in parts of the body. It has the advantage of keeping the fat converted into small particles, which ensures the body to burn quickly and completely. On the other hand, it prevents fluid retention in tissues as it is a natural diuretic. And to close with a flourish, it is a powerful antioxidant that acts on fats and effectively improves cellulite, helping to regenerate tissue and prevent premature aging. Lecithin is used effectively in some treatments for cellulite and obesity.
To help the body to form lecithin, consume enough B vitamins, especially choline and inositol, which are found in whole grains like brown rice, wheat germ, bran, etc. .
Functions of the phospholipid lecithin
It is important to maintain adequate production of lecithin because it keeps breaking up the fat, preventing the build up, as we said, around the muscles and arteries, and avoids cellulite or overweight, or those annoying "fat rolls" on the back, belly, and more.
In addition, lecithin optimizes and feeds the brain functions like memory, learning, intelligence, etc. as well as help the reproductive organs to function well and protects the liver. It helps fight premature cellular aging and is a very effective supplement in cases of mental and physical fatigue or when you are exhausted. It softens the arteries and prolonges its life and prevents hardening, thus preventing atherosclerosis and lowers elevated homocysteine plasma levels associated with risk of cardiovascular disease, preventing heart attacks. It purifies kidneys.
You see, it is very important in your diet to maintain a sufficient supply of phospholipids to help you maintain good general health and beauty.