Red Yeast Rice and Cholesterol (cont.)

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How effective are HypoCol, Cholestin, and Xuezhikang in lowering lipids?

Chinese scientists conducted most of the animal and human studies on this issue, using either Zhitai or Xuezhikang. The results of some 17 studies involving approximately 900 Chinese subjects with modestly elevated cholesterol levels have been published. In eight ofthese studies, there was a control group that received a placebo (a pill with no active ingredients) for comparison purposes. In nine of the studies, there was no placebo control group.

These studies consistently showed that Zhitai and Xuezhikang:

  • lower total cholesterol (by an average of 10% to 30%),
  • lower LDL cholesterol (by an average of 10% to 20%),
  • lower triglycerides (by an average of 15% to 25%), and
  • increase HDL (by an average of 7% to 15%).

Scientists at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition studied Cholestin in a 12-week, double blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 83 American adults with borderline-high to moderately elevated cholesterol. They found that Cholestin (when red yeast rice was an ingredient in this product) reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels but had no effect on HDL cholesterol. This study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1999;69:231-7).

Lowering LDL and increasing HDL cholesterol prevents atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque) of the heart's arteries. Since atherosclerosis causes heart attacks, lowering the LDL and increasing HDL cholesterol should lower the risk of heart attacks. In fact, several large, long-term, placebo-controlled clinical trials have shown clearly that lowering LDL cholesterol with diet and statin drugs [pravastatin (Pravachol) , lovastatin (Mevacor), and simvastatin (Zocor) reduces the risk of heart attacks. No large, long-term studies of red yeast rice products for the prevention of heart attacks have yet been conducted. However, animal studies are underway at UCLA comparing red yeast rice to a statin drug (such as Mevacor) for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015