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Moldy Rice Is A Favorite In Asia

Aug 18, 2007
A food called red yeast rice in English has been a favorite dish in Asian countries for a long time and is a traditional part of Peking duck. Traditional Chinese medicine has used the dish for over 1,000 years in order to help the body keep up a good circulatory system and heart.

In China, its use has been noted as far back as the Tang Dynasty of China back in 800 A.D. There might be a good reason for this use, since recent research has shown that red yeast rice is quite good at assisting in lowering a person's cholesterol. Just what is red yeast rice?

Red yeast rice is made by fermenting a mold called monascus purpureus on top of rice. There is a unique process that is used to separate the naturally occurring ingredient called mevinolin and this somewhat similar to other drugs that doctors give their patients to fight high cholesterol like Lipitor and Zocor.

While everyone needs cholesterol in order to have a healthy life, having too much of it as most people know can lead to problems. Our livers produce about eighty percent of the cholesterol that the body needs and the other twenty percent comes from the food that we eat.

What the red yeast rice does when you eat it is block the enzyme that exists in the liver to induce the production of cholesterol. Unsaturated fatty acids in the red yeast rice could also possibly add to the beneficial attributes of it.

The possibility of its medical uses has only recently been noticed in western countries, even though it has been used in Asia for centuries.

An extract of one of its natural ingredients, mevinolin, is often sold over the counter as a dietary supplement of sorts to be used for controlling cholesterol. You do not need a prescription for this supplement and some people are taking advantage of this.

It is not recommended to eat red yeast rice or take the dietary supplement of mevinolin if you have already been prescribed a drug for high cholesterol such as Lipitor or Zocor.

What about the mold that is used to make the dish? Monascus purpureus is a purplish-red mold in the family Monascaceae and it is used mainly in Asian dishes for color, however it can also impart a pleasant flavor to the food, as well.
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