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October 2012

Red Yeast Rice May Lower Cholesterol

New research indicates that red yeast rice may help lower cholesterol for individuals with coronary heart disease (CHD).

Red yeast rice (RYR) is the product of yeast (Monascus purpureus) grown on rice. It is a dietary staple in some Asian countries. RYR contains several compounds collectively known as monacolins, substances known to inhibit cholesterol synthesis. One of these, monacolin K, has the same chemical structure as the cholesterol-lowering drugs lovastatin and mevinolin.

The recent study reviewed evidence from 22 published studies on RYR for individuals with CHD and high cholesterol. Researchers examined data on 6520 individuals, most of whom consumed 600 milligrams of RYR daily. The length of supplementation ranged from four weeks to seven years.

Data analysis showed that compared to placebo, RYR significantly lowered total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL, or "bad cholesterol"). RYR also significantly increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, or "good cholesterol"). Furthermore, RYR showed a significant benefit in preventing death and lowering the risk of heart attack.

Researchers concluded RYR is a safe and effective supplement for reducing high cholesterol associated with CHD. However, more research on this topic is warranted.

For more information about integrative therapies for lowering cholesterol, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Shang Q. A systematic review of xuezhikang, an extract from red yeast rice, for coronary heart disease complicated by dyslipidemia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:636547. View Abstract
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