Red Yeast --- New Superfood to
Lower High Cholesterol
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May 1, 2010, last updated November 20, 2014

By The Editorial Staff of CollectiveWizdom, Katrina Devine,
Contributing Columnist and Susan Callahan, Health Editor


Red yeast rice may be the new superfood in our quest to
lower high cholesterol.  

Red yeast rice is not actually a "new" food.   The Chinese
have known about it for over 1200 years and it is commonly
used in China as a staple food. Now, studies have begun to
confirm red yeast rice's potential as a health food. In
addition to lowering cholesterol, a study from the University
of California in 2011 found that red yeast rice also inhibits
prostate tumor growth in mice.

Red yeast rice is believed to be as effective as  
pharmaceutical statin drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol.  
Can this be true? Is red yeast a "natural statin"?  Does red
yeast lower cholesterol as well as or better than stain
drugs?  Just how much does red yeast lower cholesterol and
how much red yeast should you everyday take to lower your
cholesterol? Are some forms of red yeast superior to others?

The answers to these questions are of vital importance to
our national health. Over 106 million Americans over age 20
have high cholesterol, according to the American Heart
Association.  And, high cholesterol is an equal opportunity
threat. Even President Barack Obama has high cholesterol,
according to White House physician Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman.
President Obama's LDL ("bad") cholesterol level is 137,
which is 37 points higher than the healthy
cut-off level of
100 for LDL cholesterol.


What Is Red Yeast?


According to the National Institutes of Health, red yeast is a
mold known as monascus purpureus. It is fermented and
sprinkled over rice, giving it a red color. It is also used to
make red rice wine and red rice vinegar, a common food
flavoring in Chinese food.

Red yeast contains compounds known as monacolins which
are known to reduce cholesterol. In particular ‘monacolin K’,
a naturally occurring compound found in red yeast, is the
same as the  pharmaceutical compound "lovastatin".


According to The National Institutes of Health, the first
documented use of red yeast rice was in the Chinese Tang
dynasty in 800 A.D.  In  traditional Chinese medicine, red
yeast has been used to improve blood circulation.



Is There Any Scientific Evidence That Red Yeast Lowers
Cholesterol?




























Several research studies spanning many years have
documented the effectiveness of red yeast rice in lowering
cholesterol.

Two important studies have been conducted in the United
States.  In the first study, led by Dr. David Becker from the
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 79 patients
were divided into 2 groups. The first group was given 40
mg/day of simvastatin, a commonly prescribed drug to lower
cholesterol.

The second group was put on an alternative therapy
consisting of red yeast supplements (either 2400 mg/day or
3600 mg/day depending on how high their cholesterol was)
and omega -3 fatty acids, consisting of 2100 mg/day of EPA
and 1680 mg/day of DHA.  Both groups also followed
reasonable diet and exercise lifestyles.

At the end of 12 weeks, the researchers compared the 2
groups. Which group did better--the group on statins or the
group on natural food supplements?  

The result may surprise you. The group on statins lowered
their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 39%. But the group on red
yeast rice and fish oil pills did even better, lowering their bad
cholesterol by 42%.

Again, these results were achieved in just 12 weeks.

A 2005 study from Taiwan reached similar results. In that
study, conducted by researchers from China Medical
University and China Medical University Hospital in Taichung,
Taiwan,  79 patients with average LDL cholesterol levels of
203 dl/ were given 1200 mg of red yeast (600 mg twice a
day) for 8 weeks.

At the end of the 8 weeks, the patients on red yeast
supplement lowered their total cholesterol by 21.5 , their
LDL cholesterol by 27% , and  their triglycerides by  15.8%.

Based on the strength of these and other similar studies
(notably a 1999 study by Dr. David Heber of the UCLA
Center for Human Nutrition), both the National Institutes of
Health and the Mayo Clinic have endorsed the use of red
yeast rice as an aid in lowering cholesterol.


How Exactly Does Red Yeast Lower Cholesterol?

When the red yeast is consumed, it is broken down in the
body and it is then that the lovastatin compounds are
released. These compounds then interfere with the enzymes
that make bad cholesterol preventing the cholesterol from
forming. Red yeast, like prescribed statin drugs, has been
found to inhibit the work of a destructive enzyme called 3-
hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase.



What do we take from these studies.  It is fairly clear  that
red yeast can be used an alternative to statins to lower high
cholesterol.  Red yeast is especially useful because many
people experience side effects from statins such as muscle
twitches and pains or are otherwise  intolerant to statin
drugs.

Warnings and Possible Side Effects of Red Yeast Rice

Continue reading  page 1  page 2



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