Red yeast rice

Red yeast rice which is an Asian dietary staple made by fermenting red yeast (Monascus purpureus) on rice, has gained recognition for its cholesterol-lowering agent especially in the United States. The careful fermentation process has produced specific amounts of statins which a compound that is considered responsible for the lowering of cholesterol levels. In 2001, red yeast rice extract, was withdrawn by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). This is due to the fact that the chemical found in red yeast rice was too similar to the prescription statin medication Mevacor which prompted them to classify it as a ‘drug’ which is strictly controlled by the federal government. Due to this, red yeast rice was pulled out from retail stores. If red yeast rice returns to the health-food stores in the future, it will probably be used upon doctor’s prescription.

Red yeast rice has a number of heart-healthy benefits. It helps reduce total cholesterol levels and lower levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and increases levels of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol. It also lower levels of unhealthy fats called triglycerides. It accomplishes this seeming feat by limiting the liver’s production of cholesterol. Mevinolin which is one of the main components of red yeast rice has similar chemical components to the cholesterol-lowering compound called lovastatin which sold as a prescription drug Mevacor. Mevinolin is also similar in active ingredients found in other cholesterol medications such as Zocor (sinvastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin). The unsaturated fatty acids found in red yeast rice extract are also believed to have positive effects especially in lowering triglycerides. Red yeast rice will effectively curb heart-disease and the complications due to its capacity to lower cholesterol concentrations. Persons with moderate cholesterol levels of 200 to 2239 mg/dl may have positive effects when using dietary supplement such as red yeast rice extract. Those with high cholesterol levels of 2240 mg/dl or above have a much larger risk in developing heart disease and should use prescription drugs that have undergone clinical trials to lower cholesterol levels.

image courtesy of whologwhy

In order to achieve a healthy cholesterol level, you should take substances that are good for the heart such as red yeast rice extract and include exercise and low-fat diet that is high in soluble fiber as part of the total treatment. A marked difference can be observed in people who include lifestyles measures to the cholesterol-lowering extract.

Red yeast rice could have the same effect as the prescription statin drugs. It could cause mild gastrointestinal upset and possible changes in liver enzymes or a muscle condition rhabdomyolysis. Red yeast rice is relatively safe but should not be taken with prescription statin or you may end you taking double the dose of cholesterol-lowering medications. But you can safely combined niacin supplements for additional cholesterol-lowering effects.

Do the following necessary precaution before taking red yeast rice:

Always consult your doctor before taking red yeast rice especially if you have high cholesterol or heart disease.

Eat food when taking red yeast rice extract to reduce digestive upset. Red yeast rice side effects are mild and quickly go away once you stop taking it. These include: headache, dizziness, heartburn, gas and digestive tract discomfort.

Avoid drinking alcoholic drinks or two cups of grapefruit juice while taking red yeast rice.

Don’t take red yeast rice if you are below 20 years old.

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