Red yeast rice contains several compounds known as monacolins – constituents shown to reduce cholesterol. The first statin drug known as Mevacor is actually monacolin K – a red yeast rice ingredient. Monacolin K is a potent inhibitor of the enzyme in the liver that synthesizes cholesterol. Red yeast rice is made by fermenting rice with yeast and is often used in cooking in Asia. The EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (the European Food Safety Authority) positive opinion on Red Yeast Rice is that it can maintain normal blood levels of LDL-cholesterol.
Researchers at the University of Bologna and the University of Padua in Italy recruited people with mildly-elevated cholesterol into their state-of-the-art study. They consumed a test diet and then were supplemented with red yeast rice plus CoQ10 or inactive placebo. Compared to placebo red yeast rice/CoQ10 strongly reduced cholesterol. Within four-weeks LDL-cholesterol dropped by 22% on average. But it gets better; the red yeast rice with CoQ10 also strongly reduced signs of inflammation in artery walls and in the heart. Hs-CRP, a proxy for inflammation in the heart and circulatory system, dropped by 24% with total-cholesterol dropping by 12.5%.
Matrix metalloproteinase enzymes (MMPs) numbers 2 and 9 are elevated in the blood after a heart attack and in people with unstable angina; a very dangerous heart disease condition. In this study MMP 2 dropped by 28% and MMP 9 dropped by 27%. The study is published in the journal Nutrition Research.