Red Yeast Rice Benefits Explained
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Red yeast rice extract has been a subject of interest and debate by the medical community, and the truth is that clinical trials confirm its powerful benefits. But you don’t need an expert to tell you that ancient China knew what they were talking about when it comes to medicine.
This centuries-old Chinese herb has gained a lot of buzz for its effect on reducing high cholesterol. (1) You will be surprised to discover, however, that this is only one of its many health benefits. From its heart health perks to its anti-cancer properties, red yeast rice is one of the most backed-up by science dietary supplements out there.
The benefits of red yeast rice include:
- Can help fight cancer.
- Lower cholesterol for a healthy heart.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Healthy bones.
- A low-cost choice.
You can find Monascus purpureus — the powerful rice mold, as an ingredient to consume in delicious meals such as Peking duck, or get it as a supplement in drugstores or online. This makes it highly accessible, regardless of where you are located. (2)
We have researched and collected all significant details on the benefits of red yeast rice. The proof is in the pudding, so we will also look at the best red yeast rice supplement reviews from people, to gain perspective on what the actual effects of taking red yeast rice are.
Can Help Fight Cancer
The reason that we are looking at cancer first is because its treatment and prevention are of the highest concern to many people. If you have a history of cancer in your family or are looking to add a supplement to your armor against further cancer cell growth, this section is for you.
This Chinese herb has eight different monacolins inside, which form during the fermentation that creates the bond between red rice and yeast. (3)
One of them is monacolin K, the main active ingredient in all Monascus purpureus products, including red yeast rice. It has several incredible effects, most popularly being a tool for the management of cholesterol levels — but lower cholesterol isn’t the only thing taking red yeast rice is good for.
Experts found that the use of monacolin K has the effects of reducing the risk of cancer cell growth, specifically in colon cancer. That’s the case as monacolin K has been confirmed to be identical to the drug lovastatin, which has the same benefits. (4)
Studies have shown that people who take statin drugs are much less likely to develop colon cancer than those who don’t. Their common structure means that products that contain red yeast rice can work as a substitute in treating the conditions lovastatin targets.
The everyday use of statins for the prevention of these conditions is also a practice, so red yeast rice is a natural alternative.
Despite the fact that cancer research is ongoing and has more and more positive results, it’s important to note that some patients taking red yeast products reported side effects such as headaches, dizziness, and abdominal discomfort.
Lower Cholesterol for a Healthy Heart
Let’s have a round of applause for the one effect of red yeast rice scientists are crazy about.
As we mentioned, red yeast rice contains monacolin K — its main active ingredient that has the same structure as the prescription drug lovastatin. Studies show that on top of that, red yeast rice is also just as effective in treating LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, as lovastatin. (5)
Cholesterol in your body has a crucial task — it’s responsible for hormone-making and building cells, and we shouldn’t consider it all bad. (6) To prevent the risk of issues with your heart, such as coronary disease, heart attacks, or strokes, it’s important to manage your cholesterol levels well. (7)
What this means is to keep HDL cholesterol high — HDL is good cholesterol — by exercising and choosing healthy fats for your diet; (8) and LDL cholesterol low — because a buildup (or plaque) of it can cause obstruction around important arteries and lead to serious heart diseases.
Even though some people may prefer to keep their cholesterol levels in check through a healthy diet, those at risk of high bad cholesterol need to approach that with extra caution. (9) This often includes the following strategies:
- Reduce and cut out smoking.
- Substitute saturated fats for healthy fats in your diet, such as salmon, avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
- Up your exercise regime.
- Lose a bit of weight.
- Laugh, smile, relax — it can be pretty good for you!
- Ask your doctor if you should take statins or red yeast rice.
In the fight against LDL cholesterol, cholesterol-lowering ingredients are your friend and that includes red yeast rice products, as studies confirm products containing a higher dosage lower both your total cholesterol and LDL.
If your most recent blood tests are making you and your doctor worried, and a natural alternative is your thing, red yeast rice products might be an addition you didn’t know you needed…until now.
Although red yeast rice is good for heart health and managing cholesterol levels, some people experience side effects such as heartburn.
Eating foods that fight inflammation is important if you want to strengthen your immune system and have it work in your favor. (10)
If your immune system is activated, it can immediately react to any foreign influences or potential harm. This response of the body is called inflammation. (11)
The issue with inflammation is that when it becomes a common part of your life, it can cause chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and depression, so reducing the risk of that will be of the effects you seek at all times, even without a family history.
To break it down even further, new studies are showing that every disease in the body is caused by inflammation and if left unobserved, inflammation in your body can mess up your health entirely.
There are some theories that the magic of monacolin K goes as far as to reduce inflammation, on top of fighting cancer, and keeping cholesterol levels in check. Scientists haven’t confirmed this yet, but if they do, it will mean that by targeting obstructions around the heart, red yeast rice can get to work and help an artery that is already obstructed due to unchecked cholesterol.
If you discover increased inflammation in your body, you might want to ask your doctor if red rice yeast is right for you. As much as products with red yeast rice might be the right choice for patients fighting inflammation, some products contain citrinin, which can cause kidney failure. At the same time, the content of plenty of red yeast rice supplements doesn’t actually include citrin at all, so make sure to look out for it on the label and stay well away.
When wondering what are the health benefits of red yeast rice, bone health may not be the first thing to come to mind. This one is still to be confirmed in humans; however, there have been studies on both rabbits and rats that have tested red yeast rice and found fascinating effects. (12,13)
Administered to rabbits’ skulls, red yeast rice significantly promoted bone growth, and when given to rats, it increased their total bone density. Compared to the control group, red yeast rice stimulated increased new bone formation in defects and bone cell formation.
Apart from the famous cholesterol benefits, red yeast rice contains properties that help with the increase in the BMP2 gene — a vital force for the recovery of fractured or broken bones. (14)
This means that with further research, it may be the case that red yeast rice products will help people with better bone formation and bone recovery.
If you are dealing with osteoporosis or are seeking to help a fracture heal better, this might be an appropriate option for you. While it does potentially promote bone health, some patients experienced rare side effects such as muscle weakness.
Treats Metabolic Syndrome
As well as supporting the health of your heart, red yeast rice can benefit metabolic syndrome, which is a bunch of risk factors (such as excess fat, increased blood pressure, and high blood sugar) that can lead to chronic conditions (such as diabetes, or stroke).
By lowering blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure, red yeast rice could be a good treatment for those with metabolic syndrome. (15)
A Low-Cost Choice
You might be wondering at what price you can have all the health benefits of red yeast rice. You can find red yeast rice brands selling capsules at low prices compared to other heart health-promoting dietary supplements. To gain a better perspective, some other generic supplements, which promote the immune and cardiovascular systems, sell at triple the price.
If cost is an item of consideration, red yeast rice products are a significantly more affordable option. Statins, on the other hand, can be double the price or more, and require a prescription.
How It Interacts With Other Supplements
Because of how similar they are in structure, speculated side effects make red yeast rice products interact with other supplements as most statins do:
- Alcohol interaction increases the likelihood of liver damage due to speculated side effects of red yeast rice.
- Neoral, Sandimmune, and other cyclosporine medications, when combined with red yeast rice, might cause damage to the muscles.
- Niacin also deserves caution when paired with red yeast rice, for the same reason.
- Taking red yeast rice shouldn’t happen if you are already taking medication that manages cholesterol levels, as a buildup of the active ingredient monacolin K might lead to liver damage.
- Gemfibrozil, which people also use for the treatment of lipids, can negatively interact with red yeast rice too and damage muscles.
- Tylenol, Zocor, Pravachol, and other drugs that may be harmful to the liver might increase the risk of liver failure.
In addition, red yeast rice is often paired with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). The benefits of red yeast rice with CoQ10 has been the subject of a lot of interest by manufacturers, which is why you can find capsules that combine these two ingredients. Together, they’re a common sight at drugstores and supermarkets.
CoQ10 is used to decrease inflammatory agents in the body (p16). Over a period of 2 months, a combination of taking red yeast rice with CoQ10 once a day and following a Mediterranean diet showed to reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol levels. (17)
As much as experts have gone back and forth on the efficacy of holistic options, we can agree that sometimes having a natural alternative to manage conditions through a delicious meal or a supplement is preferable to synthetic pharma.
Red yeast rice products have a variety of benefits, including lower cholesterol, a smaller risk of heart disease, and better bone health. In combination with CoQ10, it also promotes healthy blood pressure. Side effects of red yeast rice include muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, and potential kidney failure.
The Food and Drug Administration, however, has banned all red yeast rice supplements with dangerous amounts of Monacolin K on the American market, which has made the use of red yeast rice significantly safer.
Nevertheless, it’s still best to take side effects into account. Research on red yeast rice and its various health effects is still ongoing. (18)
If you’re looking for a cost-effective multi-property supplement to start your day with or a super ingredient to add to your regimen, red yeast rice might be just the one for you.