You have probably heard of all kinds of interesting things that can help you be more heart healthy, but what exactly what is red yeast rice and does it lower cholesterol? Red yeast rice is a natural alternative to cholesterol health that takes the place of other life style choices like eating right, exercising and increasing your Omega 3s and plant sterol intake. Red yeast rice is a type of rice that has been fermented in a process utilizing red-colored yeast called Monascus purpureus. You may have seen the substance used in a Chinese restaurant. It is the main ingredient responsible for the fire engine red color of Peking duck. The Chinese have in fact used red yeast rice for hundreds of years as a natural food preservative.
What is red yeast rice and does it lower cholesterol?
So, aside from eating Chinese takeout, does a red yeast rice supplement help with lowering cholesterol? In its naturopathic forms, it aims at lowering triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) which are responsible for poor heart health, cardiovascular disease and other health ailments including depression and diabetes.
It is interesting that the FDA has prohibited red yeast rice to be sold in the United States in the form in which it would actually help to lower cholesterol. You can still purchase it at a pharmacy or health food store, but it likely only contains trace elements of the substance, which actually helps to reduce LDL.If you want to know what is red yeast rice and does it lower cholesterol? it works in much the same way vegetable statins do, or pharmaceutical grade statins (drugs which much be prescribed such as Lipitor, Lescol, Livalo, Zocor, Crestor) by binding to cholesterol in the intestines so that it cannot be absorbed into the blood, and causing the liver to make more LDL receptors which absorb bad or LDL cholesterol.
It is also curious to note that pharmaceutical statins have not recently been seen as effective in actually reducing morbidity rates in high cholesterol patients, while red yeast rice has been used by the Asian community for more than 1000 years for various uses without any adverse side effects, like headache, depression, lethargy, insomnia, diarrhea, constipation, etc. So it begs the question again, what is red yeast rice and does it lower cholesterol? Dr. Christopher Cannon from Bingham and Women’s Hospitals in Chicago says, emphatically, ‘yes’. They just do it in much more subtler ways than other drugs do. You can look into his study in the Annals of Internal Medicine for more details.