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Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is an Asian dietary supplement made by fermenting red yeast in rice. It has a number of heart-healthy benefits which include the following:
It seems to reduce total cholesterol levels, lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and lower levels of those unhealthy fats called triglycerides. It appears to accomplish this by restricting the liver's production of cholesterol. The compound responsible for this effect, mevinolinis, is chemically identical to the cholesterol-lowering compound lovastatin (sold as the prescription drug Mevacor).
Unsaturated fatty acids in red yeast rice extract are believed to be useful for lowering triglycerides.
By lowering cholesterol concentrations, red yeast rice extract may help to prevent heart disease and associated complications. Individuals with moderately-elevated cholesterol levels (200 to 239 mg/dL) may benefit from a dietary supplement such as red yeast rice extract. Those with very high cholesterol levels (240 mg/dL or above) are at considerable risk of heart disease and should stick to prescription drugs with a proven ability to rapidly and effectively reduce cholesterol levels.
Precautions and Side-Effects
If you choose to use red yeast rice as a cholesterol-lowering supplement it is very important to remember that you are taking a supplement that acts identically in the body to the prescription drug statin. This means that you may experience the same side-effects (mild gastrointestinal upset and possible changes in liver enzymes, or a muscle condition called rhabdomyolysis). Some research studies have shown red yeast rice to be remarkably safe.
Red yeast rice should be taken under the guidance of a doctor.