Benefits Of Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice is also known as Cholestin, Red fermented rice, or Red Koji rice. It is a food colorant popularly used in Chinese cuisine, particularly in the Fujian region. The red coloration comes from the rice being cultivated with the mold Monascus Purpureus. Red yeast rice (RYR has been used for centuries in the treatment of circulatory and digestive disorders in China.  

This rice is used to color Red tofu, Red rice vinegar, Peking Duck, and pastries requiring red food coloring. It is a compulsory ingredient in rice wines made in Japan, China, and Korea.

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Medicinal properties of Red Yeast Rice: 

Red koji rice has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. There is a mention of the medicinal properties of koji rice in manuscripts dating as far back as 800 AD. In Chinese medicine, red yeast rice is prescribed to aid digestion and revitalize the blood.


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Red yeast rice became the focus of research in the USA in the 1970s due to its alleged cholesterol inhibiting properties. Red yeast rice was patented and a prescription medicine isolated from red yeast rice called Mevacor became popular.

Over the last 2 decades, with the increased incidence of coronary heart disease in the USA, there was increased interest in alternative systems of medicine and their nature-based cures. Red yeast rice came to be prescribed as a dietary supplement and was popular as an aid to fight coronary disease.

While research on the properties of red yeast rice is in progress, studies on the efficacy of red yeast rice in the fight against heart disease are inconclusive. Red yeast rice has been proven to have cholesterol inhibiting properties and has been known to lower lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides.  In the US two clinical trials have shown that at least some RYR that is legally available in the US is indeed effective in reducing cholesterol levels.

However, a toxin called Citrinin has also been isolated from red yeast rice. This toxin has been known to cause muscle and liver damage.

It is recommended that Red yeast rice be consumed only under expert medical advice.

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  • Red yeast rice should not be consumed by people under 20 and over 60 years of age.
  • People suffering from kidney or Liver diseases should not consume red yeast rice as it may affect kidney and liver function adversely.
  • Due to the presence of citrinin in red yeast rice, prolonged consumption may cause muscle degeneration. People with muscular weakness should avoid red yeast rice.
  • Research on the properties of red yeast rice is not yet conclusive.
  • People suffering from blood clotting and thyroid disorders should avoid red yeast rice.

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