Q. What is your opinion on red yeast rice for lowering cholesterol? I have tried statins and cannot take them.
A. Red yeast rice contains natural statins at a low dose and can lower cholesterol (Annals of Internal Medicine, June 16, 2009). In that study, most (but not all) people who did not tolerate statins were able to handle red yeast rice (RYR).
A more recent study demonstrated that combining red yeast rice and a Mediterranean diet is even more powerful than RYR alone, especially for people with type 2 diabetes (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, online Dec. 23, 2013).
For more details on RYR and other ways to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease with or without drugs, we are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health. If you decide to try RYR, be alert for symptoms such as muscle pain, weakness or nerve pain (neuropathy) that may crop up in people who are sensitive to statins.
Because supplements are not regulated, we suggest checking ConsumerLab.com before you purchase a red yeast rice product that might not live up to its billing. ConsumerLab.com tests products to make sure they have the claimed ingredients at the labeled amount and that they are not contaminated. The report costs money but could end up being worth it by saving you from spending money on a substandard RYR product.