High cholesterol can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, conditions such as heart disease and stroke. But there are two types of cholesterol found in the body – HDL which is considered good, and LDL which is considered bad. HDL cholesterol is essential in helping the body get rid of excess cholesterol by carrying it from tissues to the liver. LDL cholesterol carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells around the body where it’s needed, but too much LDL can lead to fatty deposits in the arteries.
Experts recommend a number of lifestyle changes to help lower cholesterol, including stopping smoking, eating a healthier diet with more fruit and vegetables and less salt, and doing more exercise.
But alongside these lifestyle changes, research has proven taking supplements could help lower cholesterol, and one to consider is red yeast rice.
Red yeast rice is a type of fermented rice that’s popular in Indonesian cuisine, but is also available as a supplement.
For many years now red yeast rice has been used as a natural remedy to help lower cholesterol levels and to promote heart health.
One study involving 25 people demonstrated how red yeast rice lowered total cholesterol y an average of 15 per cent and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by 21 per cent over a duration of two months.
An eight-week long study in 79 people showed similar effects.
It found participants taking 600mg of red yeast rice twice daily had significantly reduced ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels, compared to a control group.
Another review of 21 studies found red yeast rice was effective at reducing levels of total and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, as well as blood pressure, when combined with statin drugs.
When it comes to how much red yeast rice you should take, you should always follow the directions on packaging,
Doses ranging from 200 to 4,800mg have been studied in clinical trials.
What other supplements could lower cholesterol?
Glucomannan is a natural, water-soluble fibre derived from the roots of a south-east Asian plant called the elephant yam.
It’s often used as a bulking agent in foods, but is also available as capsules and powder.
According to a systemic review of 14 studies, glucomannan can lower total cholesterol by 19 mg/dL (0.5mmol/L).
The review also noted glucomannan can lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by 16mg/dL (0.4mmol/L).