High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol is harmful for the health. You can reduce the overall cholesterol level in your blood by taking cholesterol reducing drugs such as statins.
However, if you are fond of treating illnesses the natural way, you can opt for natural cholesterol busters such as the red yeast rice.
Red yeast rice is a popular dietary supplement used for lowering the cholesterol level. It is often used in traditional Chinese medicine for boosting blood circulation, treating diarrhea and indigestion. Among the Chinese, Japanese and other Asian communities the rice fermented by Monascus purpureus or the red yeast, is a popular culinary ingredient.
Red yeast rice is used as coloring agent, natural preservative and spice. Rice wine made with red yeast rice is a popular drink in China. Nowadays, red yeast rice supplements are widely used as an alternative to cholesterol reducing drugs.
The effectiveness of red yeast rice as a natural cholesterol reducing substance has been proved in few small-scale clinical trials.
In a double blinded, placebo controlled study, reported last year in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, two Philadelphia based cardiologists found that patients with high cholesterol who took supplements, containing 600mg of red yeast rice, twice a day, for six months, experienced significant reduction in the low-density lipoprotein level. On average, the LDL level dropped by 35 mg/dL by consuming red yeast rice capsules.
This dietary supplement also improved the total cholesterol level. Moreover, unlike statins, red yeast rice is not associated with side effects such as muscle pain.
According to researchers, red yeast rice derives its cholesterol reducing property from monacolins. These active compounds in the fermented rice could slow down cholesterol production in the liver. Monacolins, especially, monacolin K, present in red yeast rice, exhibits properties similar to the cholesterol reducing drug lovastatin.
However, health experts warn consumers that not all the red yeast rice supplements sold in the stores might be equally effective. In a recent study, researchers found that some of these products contain citrinin, a toxic fungus, which is bad for the kidneys. Moreover, the monacolin content varies significantly from product to product.