Red Yeast Rice: Health Benefits and Side effects

Red Yeast rice

This seemingly magical food item has been on the prized shelves of health care centers for many centuries across the globe, being especially popular at the Asian side. Used as an integral part of cuisine as well as traditional medicine, it differs with the type of strains and made from the fermentation of white rice with Monascus purpureus and related molds.

The major benefits of red yeast rice have been due to the presence of particular bioactive substances including monacolins, especially monacolin K, which is found chemically similar to lovastatin, a drug used for bad cholesterol.

Not all products contain monacolin K and the research findings that reduces bad cholesterol is based on products that contain appreciable amounts of monacolin K.

Benefits of red yeast rice remain under a huge cloud of confusion and since the right knowledge can powerfully impact the choices of the health-conscious generation of today, we bring to you this article to help you.

Read ahead and equip yourself with enough facts to make an informed choice.

Health Benefits of Red Yeast Rice

Fights Against Cholesterol

It contains monacolin K which is found to be helpful with a reduction in levels of total cholesterol as well as low-density lipoprotein, which is linked to high risk of heart disease. This promotes usage of red yeast rice as a cheap and comparatively safer (it has own set of side effects, read ahead to know more) alternative to expensive drugs.

Though large studies have shown the cholesterol-lowering effects of red yeast rice, the results of the usage are may not be the same for you. But in the end, the number of studies and their combines results have indicated quite positively towards the cholesterol-reducing qualities of red yeast.

One review of twenty-one study has found that it has been effective in reducing the levels of not only total and bad cholesterol but also triglycerides and blood pressure when combined with statin drugs.

May help with Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a collective term used for conditions that increase your risk for chronic conditions like heart disease etc. Some of the conditions in metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. Benefits of Red yeast rice include batting against these conditions. Another study on high-fed mice showed that may contribute to controlling body weight.

See Also: 25 Best Foods for Weight Loss

Reduces Inflammation

Another benefit of red yeast rice, Prolonged Inflammation is thought to be a source of heart disease and cancer etc. Therefore, it is used as a natural means to fight against high levels of oxidative stress which is thought to be the prime cause of inflammation. However, it is important to note that in the study of the effects on inflammation, the supplements were used in combination with the olive extract.

May Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Studies limited to animals and test tubes have shown that it may have anticancer properties. It is shown that are appreciably reduced the levels of tumor in mice that were suffering from prostate cancer. A test-tube study has shown that red eats rice is more effective in reducing cancerous growth when compared to lovastatin, a drug which is also said to have anti-cancer properties.  But more research needs to be done before we can add anti-cancer properties to the list of benefits below.

See Also: What are Millets? Nutritional Benefits of Millets


Red yeast rice surely has some promising benefits, but it is important to take note of its side effects and recommended dosages.

Legal status of Red Yeast Rice

According to the European Food Safety Authority, the use of monacolin K from Red Yeast Rice preparations of at least 10 milligrams can help maintain a  normal blood cholesterol level. But the United States Food and Drug Administration considers monacolin K an unapproved drug because of its chemical similarity to lovastatin and therefore it prohibits the marketing of products that label the monacolin content is prohibited.

Now the products used for culinary use contains no to trace amounts of monacolin K and therefore can be seen in the market. As for the rest of the red yeast rice produces, the consumers cannot really know the monacolin K content as the manufacturers avoid printing it on the packaging due to fear of obstruction by the FDA.

Side Effects of Red Yeast Rice

It’s unsafe to buy these from any retailer as if the quality of production is compromised, the red yeast rice supplements may be contaminated with citrinin, which can cause kidney failure. In fact, a 2011 study has shown that 4 out of 11  products contained the contaminant citrinin.

The side effects are similar to those of the drug lovastatin. Among the reported side effects of the usage of the supplements, we have myopathy, rhabdomyolysis, and liver toxicity.

Lovastatin as been found to interact with other cholesterol-reducing drugs, some antibiotics, antidepressant nefazodone and ruge used to treat fungal and HIV infections. It may interact in the same way. These interactions may increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis.

As a measure of safety, the products are not to be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Before taking make sure to have a detailed discussion with your doctor. Do not take products along with other statin drugs.

In the end, we can say that the benefits come with an equally important set of side effects and safety precautions are to be given utmost importance while consuming this product.

We wish you a safe, happy and healthy interaction!!!