Monascuspurpureus -fermented rice (red yeast rice): a natural food product that lowers blood cholesterol in animal models of hypercholesterolemia

Author(s): Li C, Zhu Y, Zhu JS, Chang J, Kritchevsky D


We studied the effects of Monascus purpureus (red yeast rice) on blood lipids and lipoprotein concentrations in three animal models. In rabbits fed on a diet of 25% casein, which induced endogenous hypercholesterolemia, serum cholesterol concentration increased from approximately 1.81 to 7.51 mmol/L within 60 days. Treatment with Monascus purpureus (red yeast rice) for 30 days at doses of 0.4 and 0.8 g/kg/day significantly lowered serum total cholesterol (TC) concentration and TC:HDL-c ratio (p<0.05). In a second rabbit model where hyperlipidemia was induced exogenously by an atherogenic diet which included 0.5% cholesterol, 15% yolk powder, and 5% lard, oral Monascus purpureus (red yeast rice) (0.8 g/kg/day for 40 days) prevented increases of serum total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG) concentration and TC:HDL-c ratio (p<0.05). Importantly, lesions in the aorta and lipidosis in the livers of Monascus purpureus (red yeast rice)-treated rabbits were less severe than those of the control model rabbits. In quail where hyperlipidemia was induced exogenously by an atherogenic diet which included 1% cholesterol, 14% lard, 6% Soya-bean oil, oral Monascus purpureus (red yeast rice) (0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 g/kg/day for 2 weeks) largely prevented increases of serum TC and TG concentrations (p<0.05 or P<0.01). This study demonstrated that Monascus purpureus (red yeast rice) reduced serum TC and TG in rabbits and quail with experimental hyperlipidemia and suppressed atherosclerosis by an atherogenic diet.

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