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Monacolin k and cholesterol: all you need to know

Cholesterol and triglycerides

Now it is known that too high values of cholesterol (especially bad cholesterol) are among the main risk factors of cardiovascular diseases.

The Italian Ministry of Health warns about the link between high cholesterol and heart attack.

A healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet are the essential prerequisites for controlling cholesterol.

However, there are also some natural remedies that can help us such as lecithin, flax and chia seeds, and fish-derived omega 3s. In recent times, the studies that have shown the effectiveness of monacolin k found in red yeast rice for cholesterol control have aroused much interest.

Let us have a look at the mechanism of action of this substance and how to take it to get benefits.

What is monacolin K?

Monacolin k is a natural substance that develops in common rice (Oryza sativa) as a result of a fermentation process operated by a specific yeast, called Monacus purpureus.

The rice subjected to this process takes a reddish colour and for this reason it is called "red rice."

Red yeast rice is mainly composed of starch (75%), but its most important components for medicinal purposes are monacolins; inside there are about 10 different types, but monacolin k is the best known, thanks to its beneficial properties.

How does monacolin k work?

Several analyses have shown that the chemical structure of monacolin k is very similar to that of synthetic statins.

It was also found that this natural substance "inhibits the HMG CoA reductase and thus the biosynthesis of cholesterol" (F. Capasso, G. Grandolini, AA Izzo, Fitoterapia: impiego ragionale delle droghe vegetali, Milano 2006).

Based on the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) guidelines implemented by the Italian Ministry of Health, we can state that taking 10 mg of monacolin K per day helps maintain normal cholesterol levels in the blood.

How and when to take monacolin k to lower cholesterol?

To daily consume appropriate doses of monacolin k and take advantage of the beneficial effects of this substance, you can enlist specific supplements.

As mentioned earlier, it is essential to choose a product that provides at least 10 mg of monacolin in the daily dose. Lower dosages, in fact, are not sufficient to exploit the beneficial effects against cholesterol.

Some natural supplements on the market, to enhance and complete the action of this substance, also exploit the potential action of some plants.

In particular, extracts of herbs like boldus, artichoke, milk thistle and dandelion, support the proper functioning of the liver and its detoxification. Let us recall that a properly functioning liver is a very important factor to control cholesterol.

An unexpected use of red yeast rice

What nature offers can have multiple functions: it is up to human ingenuity to grasp the characteristics of a product and be able to take advantage of them, possibly along with other herbs.

The fermented red rice is useful for normalising the cholesterol level but has always had another function as well.

"Produced since the early 17th century on the island of Java, Batavia arrack is rum's funky ancestor. Made from sugar cane and red yeast rice originating from Java, using stills and ancient Chinese methods, to produce a characteristic high-proof spirit reminiscent of a spicy, smoky cachaca" (P. Manzi, Manuale del barman. Rum-Rhum-Ron, S. I. 2013).

Red rice in cuisine

Red rice is an ingredient widely used in Oriental cuisine, especially in the Chinese one. Indeed, red yeast rice is traditionally served with the famous dish known as "Peking duck". This rice, still little used in the European cuisine, indeed boasts great nutritional properties and is highly satiating. However, let's not forget that cooking reduces the amount of beneficial active ingredients contained in it. So, to achieve positive effects on cholesterol, you would actually need to consume large quantities of this food every day, which is objectively impossible. Only a concentrated supplement is able to provide a sufficient amount of monacolin k to obtain concrete benefits. That said, including dishes based on red yeast rice in your diet is definitely a healthy choice as well as rewarding to the palate!

Has monacolin k side effects?

In general it can be said that monacolin k is better tolerated than other synthetic substances used for the control of cholesterol. As a matter of fact, "compared to statins, the incidence of adverse events of red yeast rice is very low" (F. Capasso, G. Grandolini, Angelo A. Izzo, Fitoterapia: Impiego razionale delle droghe vegetali, Milano 1999).

Nevertheless, consumption of monacolin k can generate some side effects in susceptible individuals; those observed in clinical studies include flatulence, heartburn, dizziness. As a result, those who already regularly take cholesterol-lowering medication, before taking a natural supplement containing this substance, should always seek medical advice. Just to be safe, monacolin K should be avoided in pregnancy and during breastfeeding.

In conclusion...

We can therefore conclude that regularly taking at least 10 mg a day of monacolin k helps control bad cholesterol. For the sake of caution, this substance must always be taken under the supervision of the attending physician if you already make use of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Obviously the intake of a supplement alone is not enough to "hold off" cholesterol.

To effectively combat bad cholesterol it is essential to adopt a healthy diet and do regular, moderate exercise (outdoor walking, cycling etc.). Only when taken in the context of a correct lifestyle, a supplement of monacolin k can actually help control cholesterol.


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