Red yeast rice, fish oil diet lowers cholesterol as well as drugs

ROCHESTER, Minn. A study published in the July Mayo Clinic Proceedings determined that supplementation with red yeast rice and fish oil, combined with applicable lifestyle changes, were on par in lowering LDL levels as compared to taking a standard dose of simvastatin (Zocor).

In addition, the lifestyle modification arm of patients showed significant reductions in triglycerides and weight.

The authors noted, however, that one hurdle to this news may be the over-the-counter availability of red yeast rice. Manufacturers of red yeast rice supplements in the past have been requested by the Food and Drug Administration to reformulate products after determining the raw ingredients labeled as red yeast rice were in fact drugs and not supplements.

The randomized trial followed 74 patients with hypercholesterolemia, who were split either into an alternative treatment group or to receive 40 mg of simvastatin. The alternative treatment included therapeutic lifestyle changes, ingestion of red yeast rice, and fish oil supplements for 12 weeks. The simvastatin group received medication and traditional counseling. The primary outcome measure was the percentage change in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).

Approximately 42.4 percent of the alternative group experienced a statistically significant reduction in LDL cholesterol levels, versus 39.6 percent in the simvastatin group. The alternative group experienced a 29 percent lowering in triglycerides, versus 9.3 percent, and a 5.5 percent loss of weight, versus 0.4 percent.

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