Red rice

Preparations of red rice – a “natural statin”

The red rice comes from  special fermentation of rice using Monascus purpureus fungi, and the final result is the product of an intense red color and a pleasant smell. The use of red rice was first documented during the reign of the Chinese Tang dynasty 800. year. In addition, for medical purposes, it was used for cooking rice wine, as a coservanse and as a  colour  for food. Today red rice is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine, but also a staple in the diet of the inhabitants of China and Japan, and it is believed that in these countries the typical consumption per capita ranges from 14 to 55 grams of red rice a day.

Cholesterol under control with the composition of  red rice

The effect of this interesting composition is based not only on people’s faith. Namely, in the seventies of last century began the era of scientific research on people who showed that red rice successfully lowers total and LDL cholesterol ( about 20 %) and triglycerides in the blood. And today, the scientific community gives a lot of evidence on the favorable effects of red rice preparations for cholesterol. One of the most significant is a study published in 2010. year in the journal ” American Journal of Cardiology. The study involved 24 subjects with elevated cholesterol in the blood who can not tolerate medications to reduce cholesterol. After 4  weeks of taking red rice as a supplement to the diet there was a significant decrease in the total volume (15 %) and LDL cholesterol (21 %). Similar results has also  a study, published in 2013. year in the journal ” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study involved 52 married couples with a total cholesterol > 200 mg/DL. Participants were given the red rice ewtract or a placebo. After 8 weeks there was a significant reduction of LDL-C by 22% and total cholesterol by 15% in the group that took red rice. This confirms the thesis that the red rice can lower cholesterol almost as effectively as drugs, statins, and that has a special meaning for people who do not tolerate statine.

Although a positive effect on lowering cholesterol, has long been known, only a few years ago illuminated the mechanism of action. Red rice, namely, the abundance of active substances – monacolin,  which are actually considered a natural statin, which means that inhibit the enzyme responsible for cholesterol synthesis. Of all monacolin, of which there are 9, the most active is monacolin K, an inhibitor of HMG – COA reductase responsible for cholesterol synthesis in the liver. Chemical and pharmacology monakolin K is like lovastatin.
Thanks to the well-documented effects of approved and medical assertion the A scientific statement was approved: “ monacolin K from red rice helps to maintain normal cholesterol levels in the blood.“ Beneficial effect is obtained with daily intake of 10 mg monacolin K from the extract of fermented red rice.

Dosage and safety of use

Currently, it is  not defined, standardized doses for red rice. However, the doses used in clinical trials in adults and which give positive effects varies from 1.2 to 2.4 grams (5-10 mg monacolin K) per day. A meta-analysis of 13 studies, published in 2014. year in the journal PLoS ONE, shows that the preparations of red rice is effective and safe to use.It is believed that the extract of red rice is generally well tolerated with possible possible mild side effects such as mild headaches and digestive problems.

Pregnant and nursing women should not use red rice, and due to the direct effects on the liver, not recommended for persons with liver disease. Theoretically, red rice can increase the risk of bleeding when it is taken with certain drugs, like aspirin, anticoagulants (warfarin) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, so people who are taking these medications, before using red rice should consult a qualified person.

Sandra Krstev Barać, mag. nutr.


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