Red yeast rice refers to the bright reddish purple rice got by fermenting rice with the red yeast Monascus purpureus. Chinese people have been using red yeast rice for centuries for culinary and medicinal purposes. Uses include food colorants, spices, and food preservatives, and improving blood circulation spleen function and digestion. True Asian rice purity test
Recent studies show that red yeast rice contains compounds collectively known as monacolins. Monacolins are similar in structure and properties to the most commonly used class of cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs, the statins. For example, red yeast rice fermented using the ‘Went’ strain of Monascus purpureus contains large amounts of monacolin-K. This is the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor lovastatin, a naturally occurring statin and the active ingredient in the popular statin drug, Mevacor(TM).
Strong scientific evidence suggests the effectiveness of red yeast rice in lowering total cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoprotein bad cholesterol) levels. Triglyceride levels also benefit from this rice. In a study conducted on people with mild to moderately high cholesterol, red yeast rice reduced total cholesterol levels by 16%. LDL levels dropped by 21%. Triglyceride levels also declined by 24% while the HDL (high-density lipoprotein good cholesterol) levels increased by 24%. Matching figures in people with high cholesterol levels were 23%, 31%, 34% and 20%, respectively.
However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified red yeast rice as a dietary supplement, not as a prescription drug. This means the FDA has not yet tested red yeast rice for safety, effectiveness, and purity standards. Therefore, you may not know all the potential risks and benefits of red yeast rice. Since there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place, you need to consider the quality of these supplements.
In the United States, red yeast rice is available as a cholesterol-lowering dietary supplement. There are many brands but none of the ingredients are purified and concentrated. These supplements contain a mixture of the 8 yeast-produced monacolins, unsaturated fatty acids, and some antioxidants. Some scientists think that all these may work favorably with lovastatin to increase further its triglycerides and cholesterol-lowering, and HDL-raising properties.
It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before taking these supplements. Also, since red yeast rice act in more or less the same way as cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs, you should exercise the same caution while taking red yeast rice as statins. This means avoid grapefruit juice and alcohol while taking red yeast rice. Also, people at risk of liver disease and people already taking statins should avoid red yeast rice.
Sometimes red yeast rice may present side effects similar to lovastatin, such as mild headache, acidity, gas, bloating, and dizziness. If these side effects linger, you should stop taking it and see your doctor.
Some people also call red yeast rice by other names such as red fermented rice, red koji rice, ang-kak, beni koji, and hong qu mi. In Asian markets like China, Japan and Korea, sellers offer red yeast rice in jars as dried grain, wet paste or ground powder. China has the distinction of being the largest producer.