Red Yeast Rice To Lower Cholesterol

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What is Red Yeast Rice?

Red yeast rice is produced by fermenting red yeast called Monascus Purpureus over rice.

It has been used in used for centuries in China as a medicine and food ingredient: seasoning, preservative and colouring.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been used to improve circulation, lower cholesterol, alleviate diarrhea and digestive problems.

Red Yeast Rice and Cholesterol

Red yeast rice contains natural lipid-lowering compounds known as monacolins. One of these is monacolin K, which is the same as  the active ingredient, lovastatin found in synthetic statin (cholesterol-lowering) drugs. In addition, red yeast rice also contains sterols, isoflavones and monounsaturated fatty acids.

Monacolins inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that stimulates production of cholesterol in the body. However, they do not seem to be the only substance that are responsible for the cholesterol effect of red yeast rice as the monacolin content is much lesser than lovastatin content in statin drugs. It is suggested that there could be other substances in red yeast rice that also lower cholesterol.

In a 12-week study of 83 people with high cholesterol,  those who received 2.4 gram of red yeast rice per day experienced significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides compared to those who received placebo.

In a study of 62 people with high cholesterol and history of discontinuation of statin therapy due to myalgias (side effects that include muscle pain and weakness), half of them received 1800 mg red yeast rice and the other half received a placebo twice a day for 24 weeks. They were also enrolled in a 12-week lifestyle change program. The red yeast rice group experienced significant reduction in LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol when compared to the placebo group. Muscle pain scores, liver enzyme level, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride did not significantly differ between the groups. This study shows that red yeast rice may potentially be an option for people who stop taking statins due to the side effects.

Red Rice Yeast Dosage

Dr Neal D. Barnard, the host on Dr Oz show, recommended taking 1200mg twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening with food. Although red yeast rice is widely available without a prescription and appears to have fewer side effects compared to statin drugs, he advised that it should be used under a physician’s direction.

See also: What is the best red yeast rice extract supplement to buy

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