Traditional Chinese medicine has used red yeast rice for centuries, but the food just recently became a popular dietary supplement in the United States for its proven ability to lower cholesterol and related lipids in the blood and liver. The supplements used in the U.S. contain monacolin K, a natural chemical with makeup and effects similar to common synthetic cholesterol-lowering drugs. There are many health benefits of red yeast rice.
Culinary Use of Red Yeast Rice
Not all red yeast rice products are supplements. The product also serves as an ingredient in foods and drinks such as Peking duck, sake, red rice vinegar, and rice wine. Taste-wise, red yeast rice is not much different than regular white rice. Its addition, however, does change the color the food in question. Unfortunately, foods containing red yeast rice have only trace amounts of that useful compound, monacolin K, or none at all. Powdered red yeast rice is used specifically to color some products, in both China and the U.S., and in this form, it retains its medicinal relevance and promotes healing.
Improves Heart Function
There is no single thing you can do to guarantee a healthy heart, but red yeast rice can be added to your existing list of natural, holistic options. When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, plaque begins to build up in your arteries and blood has a difficult time moving through these thinning passageways. The heart then has to work overtime to deliver blood around the body. This excess effort can lead to atherosclerosis, which can eventually cause the heart to give out.
Inflammation can do a lot of damage, but it begins with positive intentions; the reaction is the immune system’s defense whenever your body encounters irritants or damaged cells. Although the swelling and soreness that happen during inflammation make you uncomfortable, they are signs of healing. However, chronic inflammation can lead to larger health issues like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Red yeast rice makes this healing process easier. It calms inflammation so that you can better manage pain and swelling.
Improves Bone Density
As you get older, bone health becomes a more prominent concern. Older people often develop brittle bones and are more susceptible to breaks and fractures. Falls can be catastrophic for the senior population. Low bone density is a major characteristic of osteoporosis. Red yeast rice helps the body stay prepared for this shift by increasing bone density. Denser bones mean accidental falls become less dangerous and life-changing.
Prevents Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome describes a host of conditions that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Signs include high blood sugar and elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, and excess fat around the waist. Red yeast rice reduces your risk of developing multiple factors of metabolic syndrome.
In addition to its whole health benefits, red yeast rice is also quite filling. It can be an effective appetite suppressant when you are trying to lose weight, preventing snacking and other habits that lead to weight gain or inability to lose weight. Red yeast rice also stimulates metabolism to help you burn food and turn it into energy more quickly.
Improves Blood Circulation
A rich and vibrant flow of blood coursing through your body benefits your heart and improves the function of your muscles and arteries. Red blood cells carry oxygen to your vital organs and give you energy. When these practices occur with ease, one result is healthy skin and cell growth.
Relieves Indigestion and Heartburn
Though red yeast rice has been shown to reduce heartburn and indigestion, when taken along with certain drugs it can also exacerbate these symptoms. As with any dietary supplement, it is important to monitor your reactions so you can adjust the amount or understand your body’s tolerance level.
Helps With Diarrhea
For centuries, the Chinese have used red yeast rice as a cure for diarrhea and upset stomachs, and it has also proven useful for treating other digestive complaints. Doctors may recommend the supplement as an alternative therapy to relieve ailments of the spleen, colon, and liver. However, red yeast rice is not recommended for people with existing liver disease.
Can Act As a Blood Thinner
People who already take blood thinners for existing heart and circulation issues should be extremely careful with red yeast rice products as they are natural blood thinners. Taking the supplement in addition to existing blood thinners may cause excessive bleeding. If you take any medications or have any medical conditions, speak to a doctor before you start taking red yeast rice supplements.