Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Red yeast, red rice or fermented rice - if you're looking for a natural way to lower cholesterol, you've probably come across red yeast products. But what exactly is red yeast and how does it work? In our comprehensive red yeast product test 2021 we answer all your questions about red yeast. We not only introduce you to different types of products, but also explain in detail the possible effects and side effects.




The most important facts

  • Red yeast is also called red rice or fermented rice. It is the product that results from the fermentation of rice. The rice is enriched with the mould monascus purpureus for this purpose.
  • As food supplements, red yeast products are available as capsules or tablets. They can have a similar effect to the drug lovastatin and thus have a cholesterol-lowering effect, among other things.
  • Although red yeast is available as a food supplement, its effect should not be underestimated. Since red yeast products can have side effects like statins, taking them is not entirely safe.

The Best Red Yeast: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for red yeast products

Red yeast products differ from each other in a number of ways. Some of these features are:

With the help of various criteria, you can compare the different red yeast products with each other. This makes it easier for you to choose the right product for you.

Dosage form

Red yeast products are usually offered in the form of tablets and capsules. You will find out how these two forms differ from each other and what advantages and disadvantages they offer. The powder or liquid form of red yeast products is rather uncommon.

Dosage

When buying red yeast products, you should pay attention to the amount of the active ingredient monakolin K contained in the product. The products have different dosages. An overdose can sometimes cause severe side effects.

In principle, food supplements made from red yeast are allowed to contain a daily dose of up to 5 mg of monakolin K. Anything above this is considered permissible in Germany.

Anything above this is classified as a medicinal product subject to authorisation in Germany. We will tell you how to dose red yeast and what exactly you should pay attention to in the rest of this article.

Shelf life

Especially if you want to stock up on red yeast products, you should pay attention to the shelf life of the products. This also applies to different pack sizes. Both capsules and tablets usually have a long shelf life if stored correctly.

Package size

Red rice products are available as tablets and capsules in different quantities. The amount that is suitable for you depends on various factors. Depending on the recommended dosage or shelf life of the products, different pack sizes are useful.

Pack sizes range from 60 units to 240 units.

Even if you want to stock up on red yeast products, the amount of capsules or tablets contained in them plays a role.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about red yeast answered in detail

Are you wondering what red yeast actually is and how it works? We'll answer that here! You will also find important information on the topic of red yeast.

What is red yeast and how does it work?

Red yeast is the product of fermented rice. In this process, ordinary rice is enriched with a mould, monascus purpureus. This process not only gives the rice its red colour. The active substances, such as various monakolines, are also produced. Monakoline K is one of them.

rote Hefe-1

The mould monascus purpureus gives rice its red colour.
(Image source: Pixabay / Jan Kosmowski)

Monakolin K is similar in form to statin drugs, such as lovastatin. (2, 3) Statins are commonly prescribed to treat elevated cholesterol. (4) Red yeast products may have positive effects on the following diseases or factors:

  • Cholesterol level: Red yeast could lower cholesterol levels. The monacolin K contained in red yeast may help lower cholesterol levels. Both the LDL level and the triglyceride level could be lowered by treatment with red yeast. (3, 8)
  • Heart health: Red yeast products could help maintain heart health. (7) Too much cholesterol can cause the arteries to calcify. This can have a negative effect on the heart. This could result in a stroke or heart attack. The monacolin K contained in red yeast can have a cholesterol-lowering effect. (1)
  • Metabolic syndrome: Red yeast may have a positive effect on symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a generic term for various cardiovascular diseases. These are accompanied by symptoms such as severe obesity, elevated blood sugar levels, increased blood pressure and a disturbed fat metabolism. Red yeast could help to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. (4, 12, 14)
  • Cancer: Whether red yeast products can help against tumour formation in humans has not yet been sufficiently researched. Only the effect on tumours in mice has been studied. Mice infected with prostate cancer were treated with red yeast rice. It was observed that the tumour formation could be reduced. (11)

In traditional Chinese medicine, red yeast has been used for years for cardiovascular complaints and gastrointestinal diseases.

When and for whom is it useful to take red yeast products?

Red yeast products have a similar effect to statins. (2, 3) Therefore, they can also have a positive effect on the cholesterol level in the blood. (1, 3) People with high cholesterol levels could take red yeast products as an alternative to cholesterol-lowering drugs such as lovastatin. Red yeast products could also be an alternative for people who are allergic to statins. (4) However, red yeast should not be taken as a preventive measure. In Chinese medicine, red yeast products are used to treat cardiovascular problems, among other things. Thus, people with metabolic syndrome could also benefit from it. (4) Although red yeast products are available as food supplements, their effect should not be underestimated. Whether and to what extent taking red yeast products makes sense for you should be discussed with your doctor beforehand. This is especially true if you are taking other cholesterol-lowering medications or suffer from liver disease.

What types of red yeast products are there?

There are different types of red yeast products. They mostly differ in the form in which they are administered. In the following overview, we would like to explain the different product types in more detail.
Dosage form Description
Red yeast tablets The active ingredient is compressed into a solid form. Tablets are smaller and easier to swallow. They can also be divided and thus dosed to a certain extent. On the other hand, they can be more tasteless and smelly.
Red yeast capsules here the active ingredient is in a capsule shell that can also protect it from UV light, for example. The shell is often made of gelatine. However, there are now also vegan capsules. Although capsules are usually larger, the capsule shell prevents strong odour and taste.

While red yeast tablets are usually smaller, the smell and taste of capsules is less intense. However, tablets are usually easier to swallow due to their size.

How should red yeast products be dosed?

When it comes to dosage, you should follow the manufacturer's recommended daily dose. This is usually one unit per day. This can mean one tablet or capsule. Of course, you should also pay attention to how much monakolin K is contained in the respective dose. Overdosing can sometimes cause serious side effects. (10) Therefore, you should always consult your doctor before taking it. He or she can tell you how much monakolin K you need.

What side effects can occur when taking red yeast products?

When taking red yeast products, the same side effects can occur as with statins. (5) Therefore, you should make sure that you do not take red yeast products with other cholesterol-lowering drugs. This could increase the effect and have a negative impact. Interactions with other medicines could also occur. Some of the side effects that may occur include:

  • Muscle pain/muscle loss (10)
  • Gastrointestinal complaints (5)
  • Changes in the skin
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • poor liver values, liver damage (5)

If you suffer from liver disease, you should not take red yeast products. Too little is known about taking red yeast products during pregnancy or while breastfeeding for it to be considered safe.

What are the alternatives to red yeast products?

The main feature of red yeast products is their cholesterol-lowering effect. There are some herbal alternatives. If you decide not to take red yeast products, you have the following options.
Food supplement Description
Bergamot Bergamot is a citrus fruit that is also available as a food supplement in tablet or capsule form. The active ingredients are similar to those of cholesterol-lowering statins. Bergamot could have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Bergamot can lower the bad LDL cholesterol as well as the triglycerides (blood fat levels). (4, 6)
Psyllium Psyllium should be taken together with a lot of water or diluted with it. The water is absorbed by the natural mucus of the seeds and the seeds swell up. This mucilage can have a positive effect on intestinal activity. Psyllium can lower bile and thus lower cholesterol levels through associated processes in the liver. (9)
Artichoke Artichokes not only taste good, they can also have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. On the one hand, the ingredient cynarin can activate the liver. The liver activities affect certain processes of the bile. The bile, in turn, is also responsible for the breakdown of cholesterol, among other things. On the other hand, the ingredient luteolin can inhibit cholesterol production. (8)

As you can see, there are also other herbal ways to lower your cholesterol level. Find out more about the dosage and possible side effects.

Image source: Hendra Su / 123rf

References (14)

1. Cicero AFG, Fogacci F, Banach M. Red Yeast Rice for Hypercholesterolemia. Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 2019 Jul-Sep;15(3):192-199. doi: 10.14797/mdcj-15-3-192. PMID: 31687098; PMCID: PMC6822657.
Source

2. Ong YC, Aziz Z. Systematic review of red yeast rice compared with simvastatin in dyslipidaemia. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2016 Apr;41(2):170-9. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12374. Epub 2016 Mar 9. PMID: 26956355.
Source

3. Gerards MC, Terlou RJ, Yu H, Koks CH, Gerdes VE. Traditional Chinese lipid-lowering agent red yeast rice results in significant LDL reduction but safety is uncertain - a systematic review and meta-analysis. Atherosclerosis. 2015 Jun;240(2):415-23. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2015.04.004. Epub 2015 Apr 12. PMID: 25897793.
Source

4. Banach M, Patti AM, Giglio RV, Cicero AFG, Atanasov AG, Bajraktari G, Bruckert E, Descamps O, Djuric DM, Ezhov M, Fras Z, von Haehling S, Katsiki N, Langlois M, Latkovskis G, Mancini GBJ, Mikhailidis DP, Mitchenko O, Moriarty PM, Muntner P, Nikolic D, Panagiotakos DB, Paragh G, Paulweber B, Pella D, Pitsavos C, Reiner Ž, Rosano GMC, Rosenson RS, Rysz J, Sahebkar A, Serban MC, Vinereanu D, Vrablík M, Watts GF, Wong ND, Rizzo M; International Lipid Expert Panel (ILEP). The Role of Nutraceuticals in Statin Intolerant Patients. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 Jul 3;72(1):96-118. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.04.040. PMID: 29957236.
Source

5. Farkouh A, Baumgärtel C. Mini-review: medication safety of red yeast rice products. Int J Gen Med. 2019 Apr 30;12:167-171. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S202446. PMID: 31118742; PMCID: PMC6500871.
Source

6. Nauman MC, Johnson JJ. Clinical application of bergamot (Citrus bergamia) for reducing high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease markers. Integr Food Nutr Metab. 2019 Mar;6(2):10.15761/IFNM.1000249. doi: 10.15761/IFNM.1000249. Epub 2019 Feb 28. PMID: 31057945; PMCID: PMC6497409.
Source

7. Banach M, Bruckert E, Descamps OS, Ellegård L, Ezhov M, Föger B, Fras Z, Kovanen PT, Latkovskis G, März W, Panagiotakos DB, Paragh G, Pella D, Pirillo A, Poli A, Reiner Ž, Silbernagel G, Viigimaa M, Vrablík M, Catapano AL. The role of red yeast rice (RYR) supplementation in plasma cholesterol control: A review and expert opinion. Atheroscler Suppl. 2019 Dec;39:e1-e8. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosissup.2019.08.023. Epub 2019 Aug 17. PMID: 31451336.
Source

8. Rondanelli M, Castellazzi AM, Riva A, Allegrini P, Faliva MA, Peroni G, Naso M, Nichetti M, Tagliacarne C, Valsecchi C, Fazia T, Perna S, Graziano F, Grassi M, Bernardinelli L. Natural Killer Response and Lipo-Metabolic Profile in Adults with Low HDL-Cholesterol and Mild Hypercholesterolemia: Beneficial Effects of Artichoke Leaf Extract Supplementation. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019 Jan 6;2019:2069701. doi: 10.1155/2019/2069701. PMID: 30723511; PMCID: PMC6339758.
Source

9. Fernandez ML, Ruiz LR, Conde AK, Sun DM, Erickson SK, McNamara DJ. Psyllium reduces plasma LDL in guinea pigs by altering hepatic cholesterol homeostasis. J Lipid Res. 1995 May;36(5):1128-38. PMID: 7658161.
Source

10. Klimek M, Wang S, Ogunkanmi A. Safety and efficacy of red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) as an alternative therapy for hyperlipidemia. P T. 2009 Jun;34(6):313-27. PMID: 19572049; PMCID: PMC2697909.
Source

11. Hong MY, Henning S, Moro A, Seeram NP, Zhang Y, Heber D. Chinese red yeast rice inhibition of prostate tumor growth in SCID mice. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Apr;4(4):608-15. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0219. Epub 2011 Jan 28. PMID: 21278313; PMCID: PMC3384743.
Source

12. Mazza A, Lenti S, Schiavon L, Di Giacomo E, Tomasi M, Manunta R, Torin G, Townsend DM, Rubello D. Effect of Monacolin K and COQ10 supplementation in hypertensive and hypercholesterolemic subjects with metabolic syndrome. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Sep;105:992-996. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.06.076. Epub 2018 Jun 19. PMID: 30021394; PMCID: PMC6361161.
Source

13. Shamim S, Al Badarin FJ, DiNicolantonio JJ, Lavie CJ, O'Keefe JH. Red yeast rice for dysipidemia. Mo Med. 2013 Jul-Aug;110(4):349-54. PMID: 24003656; PMCID: PMC6179893.
Source

14. Zhu B, Qi F, Wu J, Yin G, Hua J, Zhang Q, Qin L. Red Yeast Rice: A Systematic Review of the Traditional Uses, Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Quality Control of an Important Chinese Folk Medicine. Front Pharmacol. 2019 Dec 2;10:1449. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.01449. PMID: 31849687; PMCID: PMC6901015.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Cicero AFG, Fogacci F, Banach M. Red Yeast Rice for Hypercholesterolemia. Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 2019 Jul-Sep;15(3):192-199. doi: 10.14797/mdcj-15-3-192. PMID: 31687098; PMCID: PMC6822657.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Ong YC, Aziz Z. Systematic review of red yeast rice compared with simvastatin in dyslipidaemia. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2016 Apr;41(2):170-9. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12374. Epub 2016 Mar 9. PMID: 26956355.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Gerards MC, Terlou RJ, Yu H, Koks CH, Gerdes VE. Traditional Chinese lipid-lowering agent red yeast rice results in significant LDL reduction but safety is uncertain - a systematic review and meta-analysis. Atherosclerosis. 2015 Jun;240(2):415-23. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2015.04.004. Epub 2015 Apr 12. PMID: 25897793.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Banach M, Patti AM, Giglio RV, Cicero AFG, Atanasov AG, Bajraktari G, Bruckert E, Descamps O, Djuric DM, Ezhov M, Fras Z, von Haehling S, Katsiki N, Langlois M, Latkovskis G, Mancini GBJ, Mikhailidis DP, Mitchenko O, Moriarty PM, Muntner P, Nikolic D, Panagiotakos DB, Paragh G, Paulweber B, Pella D, Pitsavos C, Reiner Ž, Rosano GMC, Rosenson RS, Rysz J, Sahebkar A, Serban MC, Vinereanu D, Vrablík M, Watts GF, Wong ND, Rizzo M; International Lipid Expert Panel (ILEP). The Role of Nutraceuticals in Statin Intolerant Patients. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 Jul 3;72(1):96-118. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.04.040. PMID: 29957236.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Farkouh A, Baumgärtel C. Mini-review: medication safety of red yeast rice products. Int J Gen Med. 2019 Apr 30;12:167-171. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S202446. PMID: 31118742; PMCID: PMC6500871.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Nauman MC, Johnson JJ. Clinical application of bergamot (Citrus bergamia) for reducing high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease markers. Integr Food Nutr Metab. 2019 Mar;6(2):10.15761/IFNM.1000249. doi: 10.15761/IFNM.1000249. Epub 2019 Feb 28. PMID: 31057945; PMCID: PMC6497409.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Banach M, Bruckert E, Descamps OS, Ellegård L, Ezhov M, Föger B, Fras Z, Kovanen PT, Latkovskis G, März W, Panagiotakos DB, Paragh G, Pella D, Pirillo A, Poli A, Reiner Ž, Silbernagel G, Viigimaa M, Vrablík M, Catapano AL. The role of red yeast rice (RYR) supplementation in plasma cholesterol control: A review and expert opinion. Atheroscler Suppl. 2019 Dec;39:e1-e8. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosissup.2019.08.023. Epub 2019 Aug 17. PMID: 31451336.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Rondanelli M, Castellazzi AM, Riva A, Allegrini P, Faliva MA, Peroni G, Naso M, Nichetti M, Tagliacarne C, Valsecchi C, Fazia T, Perna S, Graziano F, Grassi M, Bernardinelli L. Natural Killer Response and Lipo-Metabolic Profile in Adults with Low HDL-Cholesterol and Mild Hypercholesterolemia: Beneficial Effects of Artichoke Leaf Extract Supplementation. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019 Jan 6;2019:2069701. doi: 10.1155/2019/2069701. PMID: 30723511; PMCID: PMC6339758.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Fernandez ML, Ruiz LR, Conde AK, Sun DM, Erickson SK, McNamara DJ. Psyllium reduces plasma LDL in guinea pigs by altering hepatic cholesterol homeostasis. J Lipid Res. 1995 May;36(5):1128-38. PMID: 7658161.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Klimek M, Wang S, Ogunkanmi A. Safety and efficacy of red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) as an alternative therapy for hyperlipidemia. P T. 2009 Jun;34(6):313-27. PMID: 19572049; PMCID: PMC2697909.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Hong MY, Henning S, Moro A, Seeram NP, Zhang Y, Heber D. Chinese red yeast rice inhibition of prostate tumor growth in SCID mice. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Apr;4(4):608-15. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0219. Epub 2011 Jan 28. PMID: 21278313; PMCID: PMC3384743.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Mazza A, Lenti S, Schiavon L, Di Giacomo E, Tomasi M, Manunta R, Torin G, Townsend DM, Rubello D. Effect of Monacolin K and COQ10 supplementation in hypertensive and hypercholesterolemic subjects with metabolic syndrome. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Sep;105:992-996. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.06.076. Epub 2018 Jun 19. PMID: 30021394; PMCID: PMC6361161.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Shamim S, Al Badarin FJ, DiNicolantonio JJ, Lavie CJ, O'Keefe JH. Red yeast rice for dysipidemia. Mo Med. 2013 Jul-Aug;110(4):349-54. PMID: 24003656; PMCID: PMC6179893.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlich Untersuchung
Zhu B, Qi F, Wu J, Yin G, Hua J, Zhang Q, Qin L. Red Yeast Rice: A Systematic Review of the Traditional Uses, Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Quality Control of an Important Chinese Folk Medicine. Front Pharmacol. 2019 Dec 2;10:1449. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.01449. PMID: 31849687; PMCID: PMC6901015.
Go to source
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