Red Yeast Rice is a traditional Chinese culinary and medicinal product that has been used as a food preservative, food colorant, spice and ingredient in rice wine. Recently, Red Yeast Rice has been developed by Chinese and American scientists as a product to lower blood lipids, including cholesterol and triglycerides.
Studies have shown that red yeast rice products can be beneficial but they are not without risk. This article provides basic information about Red Yeast Rice benefits and side effects.
What Are The Benefits Of Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice, a Chinese dietary supplement, has gained popularity because of its properties as a natural statin. It has been made by culturing rice with various strains of the yeast Monascus Purpureus. Monacolin K is one of the compounds that red rice yeast contains, the same ingredient that is in the prescription cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin (Altoprev).
There are many benefits of red yeast rice:
Red Yeast Rice has been proven to contain substances beneficial to maintaining healthy LDL cholesterol levels.
This form of rice has been linked to lower levels of cancer in the past. However, research is still ongoing to firm up this potentially vital link between Red Yeast Rice and anti-cancer activity.
Improves Heart Function
In patients who had suffered a heart attack, long-term therapy with Red Yeast Rice cut the risk of future heart attack in half, and lowered LDL, lowered triglycerides and raised HDL.
Improves Bone Density
Prevents Metabolic Syndrome
Improves Blood Circulation
Improves circulation of blood is one of the potential benefits of taking Red Yeast Rice, though there have been no in-depth studies conducted to prove this claim.
Can Act As a Blood Thinner
Red Rice Yeast Side Effects
Despite the benefits of Red Yeast Rice, there are also some potentially serious side effects that should be considered such as:
- Kidney issues
- Liver disease
- Drug interactions
- Complications with pregnancy
In addition, anyone taking one of these medications should not use Red Yeast Rice:
- Drugs to suppress the immune system
- Serzone, an antidepressant
- Protease inhibitors used to treat HIV
- Antifungal drugs such as fluconazole (Diflucan), ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox)
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur.
Not all Red Yeast Rice products contain the same concentrations of the cholesterol-lowering ingredients. It also can contain citrinin – a chemical toxin linked to liver damage and kidney failure.
What Is The Difference Between A Statin Drugs And Red Yeast Rice
In contrast to drugs that contain a high dosage of one type of statin, Red Yeast Rice may contain 10-20 or more cholesterol-lowering ingredients. The biggest difference between Red Yeast Rice and statin medication is that it is available over the counter, while drugs are prescribed by physicians and through pharmacies.
The biggest challenge with using Red Yeast Rice extract is finding the high-quality product that is contaminant free. Many Red Yeast Rice products have been found to have different amounts of the statin-like chemicals. Some products can contain none and others may contain high amounts, which are more likely to cause serious side effects.
Alternatives To Red Yeast Rice
Red Yeast Rice is just one of the many natural remedies touted as an alternative approach to keep cholesterol in check. But before you add supplements or alternative therapies to your diet, talk to your healthcare provider.
Supplements for lowering cholesterol:
- Garlic: According to some studies, garlic may decrease blood levels of total cholesterol by a few percentages, but only for a short term. Garlic may prolong bleeding and blood clotting time, so garlic and garlic supplements should not be taken prior to surgery.
- Policosanol: Produced from sugar cane and it was found to be effective in lowering LDL cholesterol.
- Fiber: Taking a fiber supplement to help meet your daily intake can help lower cholesterol level and LDL cholesterol. Increasing slowly fiber intake can help prevent gas and cramping. Its also important to drink plenty of water, when you increase your fiber.
- Fenugreek: is a plant that grows in parts of Europe and western Asia. You can buy fenugreek as a spice in Indian spice stores. You can also get concentrated pill or liquid supplements.
- Fish oil: Salmon, tuna, sardines, and anchovies – are all rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These can help to lower your triglyceride level and provide protection against heart disease.
What You Need To Know
The efficacy of dietary supplements is usually questionable because of lack of controlled clinical trials supporting their use. Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements have not traditionally undergone testing by the FDA.
Despite the growing interest in dietary supplements, Red Yeast Rice is not recommended for patients with Hypercholesterolemia.
Whatever the state of your health, always talk to your doctor before you start using Red Yeast Rice or any other supplements.