Nearly 40% of all Americans have high cholesterol, yet many people have no idea. That’s because high cholesterol often has no symptoms and many in the medical field often given it the name the “silent killer.”
Before reaching for heavy medications like statins, consider if diet, exercise, and supplementation could be helpful
Good and Bad Cholesterol What's the Difference?
There are two types of cholesterol: good cholesterol or HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein).
HDL is usually termed the good kind of cholesterol because it moves from your arteries to your liver, which then expels it from your body. The counter of that is LDL, the bad kind of cholesterol, which goes to your arteries, where it may collect in the artery walls, creating a clog.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Red Yeast Rice (Hong Qu)
Hong qu (red yeast rice) is a rice that has been fermented with monascus purpureus yeast. The process changes the color of the rice from white to red, hence the name "red yeast rice." For centuries, hong qu has been used in China as both a food and herbal medicine. It has also been used as a coloring agent to prepare fish, fish sauce, fish paste, rice wine, and red soybean curd.
In the late 1970s, Professor Endo, from Japan, discovered monacolin-k from red yeast rice, and found it could reduce the blood cholesterol in humans. This discovery provided scientific support for the effectiveness of the traditional red yeast rice. Since the late 1990s, red yeast rice has been commonly used in the U.S. as a dietary supplement to promote healthy cholesterol levels.
But What Does It Do Exactly
Red yeast rice extract may help to reduce total cholesterol levels, lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increase levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and lower the levels of unhealthy fats called triglycerides. It appears to accomplish this by restricting the liver’s production of cholesterol itself. By lowering cholesterol concentrations, red yeast rice extract may help to prevent heart disease and other complications.
Individuals with moderately elevated cholesterol levels (200 to 239 mg/dL) may benefit from a dietary supplement such as red yeast rice extract. However, those with very high cholesterol levels (240 mg/dL or above) are at considerable risk for heart disease and should consult with their primary care provider before deciding to start any new supplements or medications
The best way to achieve and maintain a healthy cholesterol level is to take red yeast rice extract as part of an overall regimen that includes exercise and a whole food diet (like DASH or Mediterranean) that is high in soluble fiber.