1. Antioxidant – Reduces oxidation to prevent the formation of free radicals which may be harmful to health
2. Binder / Stabilizer – Retains the physical characteristics of food/cosmetics and ensure the mixture remains in an even state
3. Dietary / Nutritional Supplement – Vitamins, minerals, proteins, fatty acids or probiotics which is eaten to improve nutritional intake
4. Emulsifier – Allows water and oils to remain mixed together to form an emulsion, such as in mayonnaise, ice cream, and homogenized milk
5. Flavor / Flavoring / Flavor Enhancer – Provides or enhances a particular taste or smell
6. Gelling Agent / Thickener – Increases the viscosity by thickening the liquid to give it more texture
7. Lubricant – Prevents or reduces friction
Lecithin is a generic term to designate any group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues, which are amphiphilic – they attract both water and fatty substances (and so are both hydrophilic and lipophilic), and are used for smoothing food textures, dissolving powders (emulsifying), homogenizing liquid mixtures, and repelling sticking materials.
Lecithin is usually available from sources such as soybeans, eggs, milk, marine sources, rapeseed, cottonseed, and sunflower. It is sold as a food additive (E number 322) and dietary supplement. In cooking, it is sometimes used as an emulsifier which lowers the surface tension of water allowing the better combining of oils, fats and water in such foods as chocolate, ice cream, margarine and mayonnaise. In bread and bakery products it increases volume and also acts as an anti-staling agent thereby extending shelf life. It is also used to prevent sticking, for example in nonstick cooking spray.
It is approved to use as food additive in EU and generally recognized as safe food substance in US.
Fun Facts :
-Lecithin is a mixture of glycerophospholipids, which are glycerol-based phospholipids. Phospholipids are amphiphilic in nature where it consists of a hydrophobic (water-avoiding) fatty acid “tails” and hydrophilic (water-loving) phosphate “head”
-Mainly extracted from soybean oil and it is also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
-Is a source of choline where it is needed for nerve and muscle development
Scientific References :
1. PubChem: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/6850739
Regulatory References :
1. EU Approved Food Additive 
2. US FDA Food Additives Status List 
3. US FDA Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) Food Substances