Red yeast rice is made by cultivating mold species on rice for 3 to 6 days at room temperature. The grains of rice turn bright red at the core and reddish purple on the outside. Red yeast rice is used to color other food products, including pickled tofu, red rice vinegar, Peking Duck, and Chinese pastries that require red food coloring. Here Rachael Link, MS, RD, HealthLine.com, reflects on red yeast rice, benefits, side effects, and dosage:
“It’s turned up on pharmacy shelves only within the last few decades, but red yeast rice has been prized for its powerful medicinal properties for hundreds of years.
As one of the top natural remedies for high cholesterol levels, red yeast rice is one of the few natural supplements that contain active ingredients virtually identical to those found in prescription medications.
Plus, the benefits of red yeast rice extend beyond correcting cholesterol levels, with emerging research showing that it may also benefit inflammation, metabolic syndrome, blood sugar levels and more.
Here are the benefits, side effects and dosage recommendations for red yeast rice.
What Is Red Yeast Rice?
Red yeast rice is a type of fermented rice that is produced using a specific species of mold.
It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries for its powerful health-promoting properties.
Red yeast rice contains the compound monacolin K — the same active ingredient found in prescription cholesterol-lowering medications like lovastatin (1Trusted Source).
For this reason, it’s often used as a cost-effective alternative to pricey medications to help reduce cholesterol levels and support heart health.
Research has shown other beneficial effects as well, ranging from reduced cancer cell growth to improved blood sugar and insulin levels.
Today, red yeast rice is commonly sold as an over-the-counter supplement marketed to help manage cholesterol and improve overall health.
May Promote Heart Health
Heart disease is a serious condition that affects millions and is estimated to account for 31.5% of deaths around the world (2Trusted Source).
High cholesterol — one of the main risk factors for heart disease — can cause arteries to narrow and stiffen, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke (3Trusted Source).
Red yeast rice is commonly used as a natural remedy to help lower cholesterol levels and promote heart health, often with less adverse side effects than prescription drugs used to treat high cholesterol (4Trusted Source).
One study in 25 people showed that red yeast rice lowered total cholesterol by an average of 15% and “bad” LDL cholesterol by 21% over about two months of treatment (5Trusted Source).
Similarly, an eight-week study in 79 people reported that taking 600 mg of red yeast rice twice daily significantly reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, compared to a control group (6Trusted Source).
What’s more, one review of 21 studies found that red yeast rice was effective at reducing levels of total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides and blood pressure, when combined with statin drugs (7Trusted Source).
Could Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a normal immune response designed to protect your body against acute infections and foreign invaders.
Studies show that supplementing with red yeast rice may help reduce inflammation and promote better health in the long term.
For example, a study in 50 people with metabolic syndrome showed that taking a supplement containing red yeast rice and olive extract reduced levels of oxidative stress — a key cause of chronic inflammation — by up to 20% (13Trusted Source).
Similarly, one study found that giving red yeast extract to rats with kidney damage reduced levels of specific proteins involved in inflammation in the body (14Trusted Source).
May Have Anticancer Properties
Although current research is limited to animal and test-tube studies, some evidence suggests that red yeast rice may help reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells.
One study found that giving mice with prostate cancer red yeast rice powder significantly decreased tumor volume compared to a control group (15Trusted Source).
Similarly, a test-tube study showed that treating prostate cancer cells with red yeast rice was able to decrease cancer cell growth to a greater degree than lovastatin, a cholesterol-lowering medication with anticancer effects (16Trusted Source).
However, more research is needed to evaluate the effects of red yeast rice on other types of cancer in humans.
Specifically, further studies should be done to determine how the potential anticancer effects of red yeast rice may affect the general population.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/red-yeast-rice#cancer
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