Q. I am 73 and have had high cholesterol (240-270) all my life. I prefer to avoid statin drugs.

I am quite fit and stay active biking, swimming, hiking and playing tennis. I also watch my diet.

I’ve heard that a daily supplement of red yeast rice would help lower my cholesterol without side effects. Any information you could send me would be most welcome.

A. Several studies have shown that red yeast rice lowers cholesterol better than placebo (Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal, Aug. 2010) and is less likely than a statin drug to cause unpleasant side effects (Annals of Internal Medicine, June 16, 2009). That said, some people do report muscle pain or other reactions to red yeast rice.

You’ll find more details on red yeast rice along with many nondrug approaches to reducing blood lipids in the Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health we are sending you.

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  1. Paul43

    What is== Welchol == I have never heard of it before & why does a doctor have to prescribe it?

  2. fbl

    When Dr. Mercola first mentioned Metabolic Type diets I bought the book and was able to figure out (also took the Mercola test when it became available) that my hubby was a mixed type and I was a protein type. We had to cut way back on his fats and protein. I had to cut way down on my carbos and increase my fats.
    We eliminated almost all packaged foods. We had been using microwave popcorn that had trans fats. We bought a popper and use palm or rice bran oil in the bottom and melt real butter on the top of the popcorn.
    We buy only organic or pesticide and hormone free meats and free range/organic eggs. We read labels because of my sensitivity to food additives so most of our packaged stuff is organic.
    The refined oils are deadly. We eliminated all of them; we use Virgin olive oil, rice bran oil, coconut oil, palm oil and avocado or other natural organic oils (kept in the fridge). No refined oils at all!
    The other thing that I think helped my hubby (both of us really) was to eliminate sweets except once a week. Something we never thought about was gluten allergy. Our Dr uses the Food Safe allergy test and my hubby was sensitive to a lot of different things. Gluten was the worst so we went gluten free as well a few years ago.
    Since we have made these changes my hubby’s cholesterol has been great (down 100 points) it stays about 220 now, he’s lost about 20 lbs without dieting, and I’ve lost about 100 lbs over the last 11 years while we were making these changes.
    You do not want a cholesterol reading of 100. Mine is only 110, but with the microwave popcorn it got up to 235 about 10 years ago. I’ve just read that manganese will help raise cholesterol naturally so I just got some and will try it. Mine is too low, which is probably one reason I got cancer! Anywhere from 200-300 is good and the centenarians have numbers in that range. At the rate I’m going I won’t make 100 but my dad did get to 96.

  3. JimP

    This is a really interesting result, but could you expand on what you mean by “fake oils”? Corn, soybean and canola oils sound like they are real oils, but you exclude them from the list of oils you use.

  4. PBJ

    To “fbl”–I was very impressed with your husband’s ability to get his cholesterol down to 100. Could you please tell me what else does his diet consist of besides the good oils? Thanks in advance for your reply.

  5. Anonymous WD

    The Framingham Study 30-years on
    But what about the Framingham Study? In 1987, in the Journal of the American Medical Association Framingham Study investigators reported these two important findings: 1) Over age 50 there is no increased overall mortality with either high or low serum cholesterol levels, and 2) In people with a falling cholesterol level (over the first 14 years of the study), for each 1% mg/dl drop in cholesterol there was an 11 percent increase in all-cause mortality over the next 18 years. (JAMA 1987;257:2176-2180)
    There are more than 20 other, more recent studies with the same conclusions.
    Statin drugs cause loss of memory, and muscle problems for many.
    People over 50, or especially over 60, should not take statin drugs.

  6. fbl

    Red yeast rice caused my hubby problems when he tried it many years ago. Now his numbers are perfect!
    His cholesterol has lowered about 100 points by more natural means. We eliminated all fake oils and only have a sweet once a week. I use olive oil, organic palm and coconut oil, rice bran oil and make our mayo with organic oils such as avocado, almond or sesame oil.

  7. HJL

    There are many authorities who believe total cholesterol is an extremely poor predictor of heart disease. More important are your HDLs and the breakdown of your LDLs (the light fluffy portion of LDLs are generally considered safe. If your blood sugar (A1C) is good, your doctor is likely to advise you not to take red yeast. As previously pointed out, some have side effects with the red yeast. Why rock the boat at 73 if everything appears working fine?

  8. Susan12

    I have had elevated cholesterol for years and prefer not to take statins. For many, many years I have been taking a product, which has been very effective, called Welchol. You need a prescription to take Welchol. I take 6 pills daily, which is the required amount. Welchol has been around for years, prior to the pills it was in powder form.

  9. pd

    I used Red Yeast rice for six months daily at the recommended dose and it did not lower my cholesterol even one point.
    My doctor told me it doesn’t work for everyone and it certainly didn’t work for me. Maybe it will help you but it isn’t a sure thing.

  10. carolers

    I have had an elevated cholesterol my entire adult life. I have tried every available method to reduce it esp. the LDL: severe diet, statins,etc. The side effects
    would force me to the next treatment. Now at 83 I am ignoring it.
    I have been searching for studies that would indicate that those of us who have the familial type have some type of protection.
    I have an excellent diet, no Rx drugs, some supplements including fish oil and exercise daily.

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