What is Red Yeast Rice?

High cholesterol can lead to two times the risk of heart disease or stroke. If you suffer from high cholesterol and are looking for an alternative to prescription drugs, red yeast rice supplements may help.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 102 million Americans are facing high cholesterol levels. Medical News Today states that men and women above the age of 20 should have cholesterol levels between 125 and 200 mg/dL. If your cholesterol levels are above 200 mg/dL, it is best to talk to your doctor about the next steps to take. Prescription drugs can help, but studies have shown that there may be natural alternatives.

What is Red Yeast Rice?

Red yeast rice is naturally produced by fermenting the yeast strain Monascus purpureus on rice. Dating back to China during the Tang Dynasty from 618 to 907, red yeast rice has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in everyday Asian cuisine.

According to the Mayo Clinic, red yeast rice may contain the compound monacolin K, a compound that is used to lower cholesterol levels. This same compound is found in prescription drugs like Lovastin, which is commonly prescribed by medical doctors to patients with high cholesterol.

Why Take Red Yeast Rice?

Although statin drugs are widely used among people who suffer from high cholesterol, they often have side effects. Statins, like many other prescription drugs, can result in side effects such as muscle pain and elevated liver enzymes.

Red yeast rice can be a good natural alternative to prescription drugs, as it has been shown to effectively lower cholesterol levels in the body. A study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic found that there was a 20 to 25 percent reduction of cholesterol in those who took daily doses of red yeast rice.

Other benefits of red yeast rice may include:

  • helping to maintain proper circulation
  • improving digestion
  • increasing energy
  • supporting spleen and stomach health

Is Red Yeast Rice Right for You?

Red yeast rice can be a great alternative for those looking to minimize their intake of prescribed statins. In numerous studies, it has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, and potentially reduce the risk of cardiac deaths, heart disease, and stroke among high-cholesterol patients.

If you are taking any other prescribed medications, it is not recommended to take red yeast rice at the same time. It is not advised for pregnant women to take red yeast rice supplements.

It is always best to consult your doctor before introducing any new supplements to your diet. Be aware if any side effects arise, including above average heartburn, gas, headaches, dizziness or abdominal discomfort.

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