We know non-fermented soy is best avoided (to put it mildly). But what about smallish or trace amounts of soy products in some foods?
Specifically I'm wondering about soy lecithin used in dark chocolate.
In the 85% chocolate that I buy, it is usually listed as the last or penultimate ingredient (just before vanilla). I don't know what the actual amounts used are, and whether in these amounts it would have any of the harmful hormonal effects of soy if consumed fairly regularly (say, two 100g chocolate tablets a month).
The reasons why I avoid soy are just omega 6, anti-nutrients and phytoestrogens, so nothing that would be significant if you're getting less than a gram of soy and probably things that are removed in the processing of the soy anyway. If it were something like gluten or casein, where even a small amount might set off an immune response, then I'd be more wary with even small amounts, but even then, less than a gram would be fine for most people.
Since it's such a tiny amount (from what I've read, it's about one percent of the weight of the food) and assuming you don't eat a pound of dark chocolate each day, I'm sure it's fine. Though if you can find a brand without it, that's probably better, if not just for peace of mind.
From my experience making raw chocolate..Lecithin has a very unique property as a emulsifier.
When you add water based substances to your chocolate the lecithin will bind to one end of the fat(oil) and one end of the water and bind the two together.
You don't have to use lecithin if for some reason it turns you off. But it's great in small amounts. Get high quality lecithin.
I personally use less then a 1/4 tsp when I make chocolate so I'm sure chocolate companies dont use much more. It was mostly meant to bind flavors together so you experience one solid flavor.
I've finally started making my way through all of the Robb Wolf Paleolithic Solution podcasts... I just listened to episode 10, and he mentions in a aside (while talking about fish oil I believe) that he has no problems with soy lecithin, though he's pretty against any other forms of soy.
In the case of chocolate, I don't think it matters that much. Since it's present in trace amount and since you are not supposed to eat lots of chocolate to start with (1-4squares is about right), we should probably not care about it.
There seems to be some good components to each food, even Wheat has some vitamins, we just can't really get to them. And Soy Lecithin is similar to Phosphatidylcholine from what I understand and contains no protein. And all the bad crap in Soy is contained in Proteins, so there should be no real downside to a little bit of E621 or whatever it is in Chocolate or anything else. I don't think about it when buying chocolate.
So, soy lecithin not exceeding more than 1% of the weight is okay if you have an allergy? Hm. Don't think so. Try giving someone with a severe peanut allergy something that contains less than 1% of the weight as peanuts. I bet they'll still have a reaction. If you have an allergy to soy, it's not worth it. You're better off NOT eating something questionable than testing the water and having a bad reaction, TRUST ME.
There is chocolate without Soy Lecithin that isn't so dark you can't eat it. I've just recently found Boom Choco Boom chocolate bars from enjoy life foods.
I buy Theo brand organic, fair trade chocolate that doesn't have soy lecithin, though it's only 70% dark. :-/ Super yummy though.
Someone asked about a paleo chocolate recipe- I've been making chocolate with coconut oil. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, a splash of vanilla, and raw honey or maple syrup to taste. I pour into molds, freeze till hard, pop them out, and then store them in the freezer (they melt REALLY fast if you don't). They're really tasty and very dark. I got the recipe from somewhere on Kelly the Kitchen Kop's website in a comment thread.
Soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier to help blend the ingredients. This allows the manufacturer to significantly cut down on conching time and expenses. The alternative to using soy lecithin is just using extended conching time for at least 24-72 hours. I've tasted both, and the non soy lecithin bars I've had were very smooth.
You can also make your own dark chocolate almond bark. It's easy:
Fill half of a large sauce pan with water over medium heat
Place 100% dark chocolate bars in a smaller sauce pan with no water
Place the smaller sauce inside the large pan so that it rests in the hot water
This will melt the chocolate slowly and keep it easy to manage without burning
Add any or all of the following items:
pasture butter, coconut (oil or cream), pure stevia, vanilla, cream, raw honey, raw sprouted almonds
Once the ingredients are all mixed up and melted in, portion out pieces in little dishes or ice cube trays or a flat serving plate. Place all portions in the fridge to harden. Once hardened, you have your individual pieces or large hardened piece that you can break apart into bark chips.
It keeps well in the fridge for months and is a very nutrient dense and delicious little snack.
My local store had a rep from Theo giving free samples of their Christmas flavors a couple months ago. The rep commented specifically that their bars don't have soy in it and that they leave the cocoa butter in. She said that other chocolate companies remove the cocoa butter and sell it to cosmetic manufacturers, where they can get more money for it, and instead use soy lecithin to emulsify. I haven't researched this or anything, so I don't know how true this is. Just reporting what I heard. And, I do like their chocolate, too.
For those who are allergic to soy or want to avoid it completely, there are brands that don't contain it. I'm allergic to nuts and soy and have searched for years for a chocolate I can have; I finally found a couple, which are Belcolade and Grenada brands. Enjoy Life is allergen-free, but their products are extremely sweet.