Red Yeast Rice
- Improved Heart Health The monacolin K may help improve endothelial function, or the flexibility and adaptability of your blood vessels, which is key to maintaining your vascular and heart health.
- Reduced Risk of Metabolic Syndrome Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase your risk for chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Some of the criteria for metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, excess body fat, increased blood sugar, and alterations in cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
- Decreased Inflammation Inflammation is a normal immune response designed to protect your body against acute infections and foreign invaders. Sustained inflammation is thought to contribute to chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Studies show that supplementing with red yeast rice may help reduce inflammation. A study in 50 people with metabolic syndrome showed that taking a supplement containing red yeast rice and olive extract for 8 weeks reduced levels of oxidative stress which is a key cause of chronic inflammation by up to 20 percent. One study found that giving red yeast extract to rats with kidney damage reduced levels of specific proteins involved in inflammation in the body.
- Reduced Cancer Risk Current research is limited to animal and test-tube studies, but 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 with a control group.
- High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia). Research shows that red yeast rice containing considerable amounts of monacolin K can lower your total blood cholesterol level, your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level and your triglyceride level. Red yeast rice costs less than a statin and while the supplement is generally considered safe, it might carry the same potential side effects as statin cholesterol drugs. Lovastatin side effects include liver damage and muscle disease, or myopathy. All supplements with red yeast rice vary in amount of monacolin K so it is hard to regulate if you are taking it for cholesterol control.
Red yeast rice can cause mild side effects, including:
- Abdominal discomfort
Don’t take red yeast rice if you’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breast-feeding.
Possible interactions include:
- Alcohol. Don’t drink alcohol if you are taking red yeast rice. The combination might increase the risk of liver damage.
- Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune). Taking this immunosuppressive drug with red yeast rice might increase the risk of myopathy.
- Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inhibitors. Taking red yeast rice with drugs, such as erythromycin, that inhibit this enzyme might increase the risk of harmful red yeast rice side effects.
- Grapefruit. Drinking grapefruit juice and taking red yeast rice might increase the risk of the supplement’s harmful side effects.
- Gemfibrozil (Lopid). Taking this cholesterol drug with red yeast rice might increase the risk of myopathy.
- Hepatotoxic drugs, herbs and supplements. Red yeast rice might contain monacolin K, which can cause liver damage in some people. Taking red yeast rice with these types of drugs, herbs and supplements could increase the risk of liver damage.
- Niacin. Taking red yeast rice with high-dose niacin might increase the risk of myopathy.
- St. John’s wort. Taking this supplement with red yeast rice might reduce the effectiveness of red yeast rice.
- Statin. Taking red yeast rice with other statins might increase the risk of harmful side effects.
How to Store
Store in a glass container in a cool, dry place.
How to Cook
Red rice yeast is often used as natural food coloring, in fermented tofu, red rice vinegar and all kinds of red, Chinese pastry.
You can cook red yeast rice like normal rice (1 cup rice : 1½-2 cups water, for 25 minutes). Powders can be mixed into smoothies.