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Red Yeast Rice - Benefits and Risks

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Red yeast rice is a reddish purple fermented rice that has been cultivated with mold (yeast) culture.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At June 30, 2023
Reviewed AtJuly 5, 2023

What Is Red Yeast Rice?

Red yeast rice has been the staple food for people in East Asian countries but has gained its attention as a natural alternative to statins for lowering cholesterol levels. It has been used for centuries in Asian cuisine and traditional medicine. This effect is due to its predominant ingredient, monacolin K, similar to the property of major active ingredients in cholesterol statins. Also, it possesses certain biological properties, such as anti-inflammation and improved blood flow. The product is fermented using cooked rice kernels with a mold (yeast) called Monascus purpureus.

What Is the Dosage Recommendation for Red Yeast Rice?

Red yeast rice can be taken as raw rice as the primary meal. Consequently, red yeast rice and its extracts are available in various formulations, including capsules, tablets, and powder. The red yeast rice supplements can be formulated conjugated with additional ingredients such as omega-3 fatty acids and nattokinase. The commercially available red yeast rice can contain other nutraceutical ingredients. Certain resources suggest taking about 3200 to 16000 ounce of red yeast rice twice or thrice daily. Nevertheless, significant consideration should be given to monacolin K's content in red yeast rice since they exist in varied quantities of varied products.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Red Yeast Rice?

Red yeast rice gained popularity for its medical use in lowering cholesterol concentration. Also, it helps lower blood glucose and blood pressure levels, reducing the risk of heart ailments. All these effects of red yeast rice can be attributed to a considerable amount of monacolin K. The following are the possible health benefits of red yeast rice, either as raw rice or supplements.

Cholesterol and Heart Health: Heart disease is the world's most serious condition affecting millions and can lead to acute deaths. High cholesterol level is considered one of the predominant risk factors causing cardiovascular events due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the condition of the accumulation of fats, cholesterol, or other compounds on the walls of the arteries.

Red yeast rice is traditionally and commonly used as a natural cure to help reduce cholesterol levels and promote heart states. Red yeast rice is known to present fewer adverse effects when compared to standard cholesterol drugs.

Clinical-trial-based studies validate that red yeast rice effectively reduces total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides when combined with statins.

In another way, monacolin K of red yeast rice has something to do with heart health in the vascular aspect. So, it can help improve endothelial function and promote blood vessel flexibility.

These are considered vital keys in promoting and maintaining vascular health related to heart health.

Metabolic Syndrome: Metabolic syndrome refers to a range of conditions that can increase the risk of chronic ailments like diabetes, stroke, and heart illness. The risk factors or causes of metabolic syndrome include excess cholesterol, increased triglycerides, increased fat content, increased blood pressure, and heightened sugar levels. Several clinical researchers present that red yeast rice helps in both the intervention and prevention of these risk determinants of metabolic syndrome.

Addedly, red yeast rice is known to effectively decrease both the system's good and bad cholesterol levels. A small study states that red yeast rice in a supplement had been proven effective in reducing blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and insulin levels in individuals with metabolic syndrome.

Cancer Risks: The small group of studies concerning animal and test-tube experimentation showed that red yeast rice possesses specific anticancer properties since it helped diminish the growth and proliferation of tumor cells. One particular study experimented with giving red yeast rice powder supplements to mice with prostate cancer and compared it with the control placebo group. The results show that red yeast rice significantly reduced the tumor volume than in the control group. Nevertheless, a large study is required to evaluate human cancer effects.

Inflammation: Inflammation is nothing other than the acute immune response of the system to infection and infectious agents. Prolonged and chronic degrees of inflammation are attributable to the development of chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Certain clinical researches validate that red yeast rice helps diminish inflammation in the long span.

One particular study validated that a supplement containing an adequate proportion of red yeast rice and olive extract reduced oxidative stress levels by up to a range of twenty percent. Oxidative stress is a vital cause of chronic inflammation. Also, one mouse experimentation study says that red yeast extract decreased specific protein levels affiliated with inflammation in mice with kidney deterioration.

What Are the Risks Associated With Red Yeast Rice?

The red yeast rice supplement is considered sound, safe, and effective in treating various conditions.

Red yeast rice also carries potential adverse effects, including the following.

  • Heartburn.

  • Gas.

  • Headache.

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort.

  • Dizziness.

  • Bloating.

Serious side effects are rare in this case. Nevertheless, it can present the following complications in extreme and rare cases.

  • Liver toxicity.

  • Allergic reactions.

  • Muscle problems.

What Are the Precautions and Warnings of Red Yeast Rice?

  • Allergy: Red yeast rice can precipitate severe allergic reactions. One should rightly seek a doctor or emergency care, such as rash, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Moreover, one should not retake the medication with a history of allergy since it would lead to severe complications.

  • Pregnancy: No appropriate data from studies demonstrate the red yeast rice-induced risk in pregnant women. Nevertheless, avoiding this rice during pregnancy is considered the soundest.

  • Breastfeeding: The studies validating red yeast rice use and risk during breastfeeding are inadequate. But one must be cautious and better avoid taking it during lactation times since it is not generally recommended to take in this case.


Red yeast rice is typically fermented rice possessing good benefits with fewer adverse effects. Red yeast rice with considerably good amounts of monacolin K helps effectively reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. But, many past and current clinical pieces of research are limited to test-tube and animal studies. Hence, we need additional research to better understand red yeast rice's potency and efficacy on various clinical sides.

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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)


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