Red Yeast Rice is a compound produced through the growth and fermentation of a type of red yeast (Monascus purpureus).
The fermented yeast which results from this process is then inactivated and the Red Yeast Rice mixture is powdered. It can also be found in a wide variety of foods in many Asian countries.
Red Yeast Rice contains a number of naturally occurring compounds known as monacolins. An enzyme in the liver (HMG-CoA reductase) which is needed by the body to produce cholesterol is inhibited by monacolins. These compounds are also known as statins and have cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant properties. Red Yeast Rice also contains a mix of sterols (sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol), isoflavones and unsaturated fatty acids, which are though to contribute to the cholesterol and lipid-lowering effects of the monacolins.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Red Yeast Rice is used as a blood and heart tonic. Clinical trials indicate that Red Yeast Rice can significantly reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and total triglyceride concentrations. A recent study was conducted using a combination of dietary changes in combination with Red Yeast Rice supplements (2.4 grams per day, containing 9.6mg total monacolins) in patients with elevated cholesterol levels. The results of the study revealed that a two month course of Red Yeast Rice supplements reduced total cholesterol by 16%, LDL cholesterol by 21% and total triglyceride levels by 25%, while HDL (healthy cholesterol) levels increase by 15 percent. Discontinuation of Red Yeast Rice supplements following the treatment led to a rapid return of cholesterol levels to pre-study levels.
NOTESAs a natural approach to controlling moderately elevated cholesterol, Red Yeast Rice supplements appear to be a safe and effective addition to a healthy diet and exercise regimen. There are no reported side effects associated with Red Yeast Rice.