Overview

Red yeast rice is the product of rice fermented with a type of yeast called Monascus purpureus. It contains monacolin K, which is identical to a statin drug.

Red yeast rice contains ten different chemicals known as monacolins. These chemicals affect cholesterol levels. Monacolin K, which is the same as the drug lovastatin, is the most abundant in red yeast rice. Because of this, it has many of the same effects and precautions as the statin drug.

People most commonly use red yeast rice for high levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood. It is also used for heart attack, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these other uses.

The US FDA considers red yeast rice products that contain significant amounts of statin-like ingredients to be illegal, unapproved drugs. But many of these products are still available. Red yeast rice products do not always contain consistent amounts of statins, which can change their effects on health.

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