Red yeast rice is a fermented rice, which has been used in China for over 1,000 years for medicinal purposes. This article provides an overview about the benefits this rice.
Benefits of red yeast rice were first recorded during the Tang Dynasty in 800 A.D, in ancient China. It was widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for aiding in digestion, clearing blood clots (artery blockages), and for imparting vigor, strength, and vitality to the body. Besides medicinal uses, it is also a part of the staple diet in many Asian countries. It is prepared in the same manner as the white rice. It is used as a food-coloring agent for a variety of food products like red rice vinegar, pickled tofu, Chinese pastries, in several types of Korean and Chinese rice wines, and the Japanese sake.
Red yeast rice is mainly grown in China, from where its use as a staple diet spread to most of the South East Asian countries. Preparation of this rice takes about a week. First, the rice grains are soaked in water until they are fully saturated. Then this soaked rice can be directly inoculated, or steamed prior to inoculation. Here, inoculation means mixing the yeast Monascus purpureus with powdered rice, or spores with polished and processed rice. After inoculation it is incubated at room temperature for 4-6 days; following which, each grain will have a bright red color and is fermented.
Red yeast rice contains several chemical compounds of the group monacolins. Monacolin K, one of the important compounds, is a substance known to inhibit cholesterol synthesis. Its extracts are sold as natural cholesterol-lowering supplements in many medical stores.
Lowers High Cholesterol
It has been extensively studied, and is found to lower low-density lipoprotein/LDL, total blood cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.
Coronary Heart Disease
Some clinical studies show positive results for the use of this rice for cardiovascular-related health problems.
Some studies suggest that this rice has helped diabetics to lower the blood sugar levels.
It also lowers cholesterol levels and help in other cardiovascular-related illness has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). More clinical studies are needed to establish the veracity of its benefits. Some of commonly reported side effects of red yeast rice are headache, indigestion, heartburn, muscle and joint pain, liver inflammation, and in rare instances, damage to the peripheral nerves. The use of artificial coloring agents to adulterate it also makes a person vulnerable to illness.
Red yeast rice is available in different forms such as whole dried grains, powder, etc. In spite of the various benefits associated with it, this rice should be used with caution due to the side effects. Hence, it is best to consult a medical practitioner before using it.