Red yeast rice is a traditional Asian fermented food that is also used as an herbal supplement. It is made by fermenting a strain of Monascus purpureus on white rice. This fermentation process gives red yeast rice its unique color and special nutritional profile.
Red yeast rice is widely used in food flavoring and herbal remedies in Asia. It has a long history in the diets of China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries. People use red yeast rice to add color and flavor to foods, such as in rice, pasta and tofu products. Additionally, red yeast rice is used in traditional herbal remedies and is believed to have several health benefits.
The most important active ingredients in red yeast rice are tannins, specifically a substance called monacolin K. Monascus has a similar structure to statins such as lovastatin and is thought to inhibit cholesterol synthesis. For this reason, red yeast rice is used by some people as a supplement to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
In addition to monascus, red yeast rice also contains other beneficial compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and proteins. These compounds are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can positively affect cardiovascular health.
Red yeast rice has been extensively studied and linked to several health benefits. The most prominent of these is its relationship with cholesterol levels. Monascus in red yeast rice, as a natural statin compound, can inhibit the activity of cholesterol synthase, thereby reducing total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. This makes red yeast rice a popular supplement used to improve blood lipid levels.
However, it is important to note that the amount of monascus in red yeast rice may vary by brand and manufacturing process. Some commercial products may be low in red yeast rice, so when choosing a red yeast rice supplement, you should read product labels carefully and choose a verified and reputable brand.
Additionally, red yeast rice has also been studied for other health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease prevention, anti-inflammatory effects, and antioxidant properties. However, more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism and efficacy of these effects.
Overall, red yeast rice is an ancient and interesting food and herbal supplement with potential health benefits. Its main active ingredient, red yeast rice, is related to the regulation of cholesterol levels, but you should pay attention to the rationality of quality and dosage when choosing and using red yeast rice supplements.