Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chinese Condiment Cuts Blood Cholesterol

March 26, 1999
American Heart Association
The spice that gives Peking duck its distinctive red color seems to lower blood cholesterol, two research teams reported at the American Heart Association's epidemiology and prevention meeting.

ORLANDO, Fla, March 25 -- The spice that gives Peking duck its distinctive red color seems to lower blood cholesterol, two research teams reported today at the American Heart Association's epidemiology and prevention meeting.

Related Articles

In a study conducted in China, an extract of the red yeast fermented on rice, which is sold under the name of Cholestin, reduced total blood cholesterol by nearly 26 percent in elderly patients after eight weeks of treatment, says the study's lead author, Joseph Chang, Ph.D., vice president of clinical affairs at Pharmanex, Inc. The Simi Valley, Calif., company imports the dietary supplement to the United States.

"Cholestin also reduced 'bad' cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) by 32.8 percent and decreased by 19.9 percent triglycerides, a type of blood fat associated with increased risk for heart disease," says Chang.

The average total cholesterol level of study participants was 225 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL); average LDL was 160 mg/dL and average triglyerides were 250 mg/dL. LDL is called the "bad" cholesterol because it collects in the blood vessels to form plaque that can block blood flow, triggering a heart attack or stroke. Individuals who did not receive the supplement had reductions of total blood cholesterol and LDL of about 7 percent, says Chang.

James Rippe, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, reports similar results in a second study that was conducted in 12 medical centers and funded by Pharmanex. He reports that after eight weeks on Cholestin, individuals had a 16.4 percent drop in total blood cholesterol. Their LDL decreased by 21 percent, and HDL-cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol, increased by 14.6 percent. HDL cholesterol is called the "good" cholesterol because it helps remove the "bad" cholesterol from the blood. The average cholesterol levels for this group were 242 mg/dL; average LDL was 158 mg/dL and the average HDL was 50 mg/dL.

"In China, the red yeast is known to promote healthy heart function," says Rippe.

He speculated that the differences in results between the Chinese and Boston studies could be due to the fact the Chinese study used a more concentrated red yeast than that found in Cholestin.

"As a natural substance there are hundreds of potentially active ingredients in Cholestin that could have contributed to the cholesterol lowering. Cholestin contains a range of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors that probably contribute to the effect," Rippe say. "The Chinese study participants received approximately 13.5 milligrams of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors each day in the Cholestin preparation that they took, while the participants in the Boston study received about 9.6 mg per day," according to Rippe.

Most of the cholesterol that circulates in the blood does not come from dietary cholesterol but is instead manufactured by the liver. HMG CoA reductase is an enzyme found in the liver that controls cholesterol production in the body. By inhibiting that enzyme, red yeast reduces the body's cholesterol output, according to Rippe.

"Although red yeast fermented on rice is used to spice traditional Chinese food, such as Peking duck and spareribs, this is not an efficient way to consume the substance," says Rippe. "The capsule form of red yeast rice contains a more consistent amount of the active ingredients than the amount people in China obtain from these sources in their diet."

The capsule form of red yeast did not cause significant side effects, the researchers say.

Chang's colleague, J. S. Zhu, director of clinical pharmacology at Pharmanex in Beijing, says, of the 70 patients in his study, one dropped out because of headaches and four other individuals discontinued the study because of travel demands.

Eighteen percent of the men and women in the Boston study reported mild to moderate symptoms, mostly mild gastrointestinal problems or headaches, and 16 of the 187 individuals left the study early, says Zhu. "To put it in perspective, that is an extremely low number in general and shows that Cholestin causes few side effects," he adds.

Thomas A. Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of American Heart Association's population science committee and chairman of community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY, says, "The results of these two studies are promising. In the future, the red yeast rice may provide clinicians with another tool to lower LDL cholesterol. The substance certainly merits additional study. However, too little is known to make scientifically sound statements about the safety and effectiveness of this substance to make a public health recommendation about its use at present.

"In the meantime, the American Heart Association continues to advise individuals to try to lower high blood cholesterol with a diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains," says Pearson. "If diet alone does not bring the cholesterol levels under control, treatment with several types of medications, including statin drugs that have been comprehensively studied, are a second step in treatment options."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "Chinese Condiment Cuts Blood Cholesterol." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990326061859.htm>.
American Heart Association. (1999, March 26). Chinese Condiment Cuts Blood Cholesterol. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990326061859.htm
American Heart Association. "Chinese Condiment Cuts Blood Cholesterol." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990326061859.htm (accessed April 24, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 24, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

85 Killed in Niger by Meningitis Since Start of Year

85 Killed in Niger by Meningitis Since Start of Year

AFP (Apr. 24, 2015) A meningitis outbreak in Niger has killed 85 people since the start of the year prompting authorities to close schools in the capital Niamey until Monday. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anti-Malaria Jab Hope

Anti-Malaria Jab Hope

Reuters - News Video Online (Apr. 24, 2015) The world&apos;s first anti-malaria vaccine could get the go-ahead for use in Africa from October if approved by international regulators. Paul Chapman reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Food Printing: The Meal of the Future?

3D Food Printing: The Meal of the Future?

AP (Apr. 23, 2015) Developers of 3D food printing hope the culinary technology will revolutionize the way we cook and eat. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Genes Could Influence How Much Mosquitoes Love You

Your Genes Could Influence How Much Mosquitoes Love You

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2015) New research suggests genetics play a big part in how appetizing you smell to mosquitoes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins