RED YEAST RICE: THE NATURAL APPROACH TO CHOLESTEROL
Support Cardiovascular Health
Lowers Blood Pressure
a lipid sterol found throughout the body, is necessary for the production of
sex hormones and corticol steroids. Important in the production of healthy
nerves and skin, cholesterol also plays a major role in maintaining overall
So why is cholesterol such a
problem? The trouble with cholesterol is that it has a tendency to combine
with blood platelets and adhere to the inside walls of arteries. These
"plaques" that are formed, restrict blood flow through the blood vessels
causing an increase in blood pressure.
Good and Bad Cholesterol:
Although we do not yet understand
the mechanisms, we do know that elevated cholesterol levels correlate with a
higher risk of heart disease. However, all cholesterol is not a like.
Cholesterol travels through the blood via lipoproteins, a cholesterol
molecule attached to a protein. There are two main forms of these
lipoproteins; high-density lipoproteins (HDL's), and low-density liproteins or
(LDL's). It is the ratio of the HDL's to LDL's that plays a key role in the
health of our arteries. In general the higher the level of LDL's the greater
the risk of plaque formation and heart disease.
Red Yeast Rice:
Red Yeast rice extract is a
preparation from the yeast, Monascus purpureus that is grown on rice
using a traditional Chinese rice fermentation method. Red Yeast rice has been
used in China for thousands of years to make rice wine and as a flavor
enhancer for food.
Modern research has found that Red
Yeast rice extracts help promote healthy blood cholesterol levels by
inhibiting HMG-CoA retuctase, an enzyme directly responsible for the synthesis
of cholesterol in the liver. This inhibitor is called mevinolin, and
appears to be closely related to the active component found in a major
Red Yeast Lowers Cholesterol:
Red Yeast rice has been shown to
lower total serum cholesterol levels. In a double-blind study with 502
patients, Wang et al. demonstrated that Red Yeast rice lowered total
cholesterol levels by 22.7%. There was a 31% reduction of LDL and a 20%
increase in HDL levels by the end of eight weeks of treatment.
A study published in the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Herber et al., examined the
cholesterol-lowering effects of Chinese Red Yeast rice using a double-blind
placebo controlled trial over a 12 week period with 83 patients. In this
trial, total cholesterol decreased by 20% and triglycerides decreased by 36%
in the supplement group. HDL-cholesterol concentrations increased by 17% in
the treated group compared to only 8% in the control group.
Red Yeast Rice lowers Blood Pressure:
Extracts of the fermented rice have
been shown to contain hypotensive agents such as acetylcholine and GABA. Both
these compounds reduce blood pressure by relaxing the smooth muscles of blood
vessels. Studies report that supplementation with Red Yeast rice can
significantly lower blood pressure and basal heart rate.
Usage and Safety:
Studies with the Red Yeast rice
showed that between 1.2-2.4g per day of the extract taken for 8 weeks had a
significant effect on the lowering of total cholesterol in the blood. Side
effects were rare and include minor dizziness, heartburn and indigestion.
However, individuals with a history of liver problems should not use this
extract without the advice of their doctor.
People over the age of 40 years
should have their cholesterol checked at least once a year. Other ways to
lower cholesterol levels are to reduce the amounts of fat in the diet, eat
more fruit and vegetables and increase the amount of daily exercise. Oat fiber
and Gugulipids (extracts from the Commiphora plant) have both been shown to
help lower cholesterol by facilitating its removal from the body.