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High cholesterol: Red yeast rice could be the answer to lowering your cholesterol levels

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Cholesterol is not intrinsically harmful, in fact, your body needs it to build healthy cells. High levels of cholesterol are harmful, however, because it causes fatty deposits to develop in your blood vessels. This increases your risk of heart disease, a major cause of death in the UK and worldwide. Finding natural ways to help lower your cholesterol levels should be on the forefront of most minds and according to studies and experts, using red yeast rice may be the cure.

Red yeast rice is a traditional Chinese medicine and cooking ingredient. It’s made by culturing red rice with yeast.

Some red yeast rice products contain substantial quantities of monacolin K, reports the NCCIH.

This substance is chemically identical to the active ingredient in the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin.

Red yeast rice products that contain this substance may help lower your blood cholesterol levels.

In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the cholesterol-lowering effects of red yeast rice was investigated. 

The study noted: “We evaluated the lipid-lowering effects of this red-yeast-rice dietary supplement in US adults separate from effects of diet alone.

“Subjects were treated with red yeast rice or placebo and instructed to consume a diet providing 30 percent of energy from fat from saturated fat, and 300 mg cholesterol daily.

“Main outcome measures were total cholesterol, total triacylglycerol, and HDL and LDL cholesterol measured at weeks eight, nine, 11 and 12.”

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Total cholesterol concentrations decreased significantly between baseline and eight weeks in the red-yeast-rice–treated group compared with the placebo-treated group.

The study concluded that red yeast rice significantly reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and total triacylglycerol concentrations compared with placebo.

Red yeast rice provides a new, novel, food-based approach to lowering cholesterol in the general population.

In 1977, Professor Endo in Japan discovered a natural cholesterol-lowering substance that is produced by a strain of Monascus yeast, said Medicine.net

The health site continued: “This substance inhibits HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that is important for the production of cholesterol in the body.

“Professor Endo named this substance moncacolin K.

“Since then, scientists have discovered a total of eight monacolin-like substances that have cholesterol-lowering properties.”

Scientists conducting the numerous studies on red yeast rice on cholesterol and generally believe that red yeast rice is safe in the long-term since it has been a food staple for thousands of years in Asian countries without reports of toxicity.

Researchers attributed the safety of red yeast rice products to the process of preparation that does not involve the isolation and concentration of a single ingredient.

Although it is true that isolation and concentration enhance the potency of a single ingredient, these factors also increase the risk of side effects.

It’s always important to consult with your GP before embarking on new foods or supplements to help lower your cholesterol.

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