Monday, October 29, 2007

Cholesterol, Red Yeast Extract and Health

It was about a month ago that I attended a seminar that was covering the health benefits of red yeast extract. During this seminar I heard some pretty convincing evidence supporting the beneficial effects that supplemental red yeast extract has had on cholesterol levels in various clinical trials.

As a scientist, I tried my best to pick apart the research, however that data was fairly convincing. I left the seminar open to the idea that red yeast extract may hold promise for its beneficial effects of lowering cholesterol.

This morning I read in an issue of Nutrition Outlook Magazine that stated that some red yeast extract products have been pulled from the market because they were adulterated with Lovastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug.

Now, this has me wondering, what kind of red yeast extract was used in the scientific trials? Did they also contain Lovastatin, and can that account for the cholesterol lowering effects that were observed?

While most likely we will never know the answers to this question, and I am sure that not all red yeast extract products have been adulterated, this kind of thing does make me even more hesitant about the efficacy (and safety) of herbal supplements.

This is another reason why I like the simplicity of using exercise combined with caloric restriction or short periods of fasting for weight loss purposes- you are getting the health benefits (including improvements in cholesterol profiles) simply by eating less, so you don't have to worry about what might, or might not be, in your functional food.

In this regard, you can think of eating less as "functional NO food".


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Robin said...

Red Yeast Extract IS, as I understand it, a statin drug. The whole statin drug industry is a rip off/follow on of RYE. I started taking it years ago, and got exactly the same benefit I now get from Lovastatin. The literature and my doctor both said test for the side effects of statins. Later the supplement industry was required to take the statin precurso or whatever out of Red Yeast Extract. So it should not work any more, unless they adulterate it. This whole thing was a rip off, the drug industry steals the fire from a Chinese natural supplement, and then bans sellers of that supplement unless they take the statins/statin precursors out.

High Cholesterol said...

This is really worrying.
Now I'm going to hesitate with all supplements I am considering to take.

Anonymous said...

there are supplements out there that can be very beneficial in monitoring cholesterol levels! Nutrients such as soy, fiber, vitamins C, B6, and E can all help promote healthy living. You can read up more on supplements for cholesterol over at the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau.