The nutraceutical fruit-flavored drink containing red yeast rice was also associated with reductions in total cholesterol, researchers from Florida Atlantic University, Healthy Drinks Discoveries, Inc., and Miami Children’s Hospital report in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.
“Although an 18% reduction in serum LDL concentration may seem modest, the consequential expected reduction in cardiovascular events may be twice that number on the basis of previous LDL reduction trials,” wrote the researchers, led by Mitchell Karl, MD.
The new study was funded by Healthy Drinks Discoveries, Inc. and Dr Karl is the founder of the company.
Red yeast rice
Red yeast rice is the product of yeast grown on rice. It is a dietary staple in some Asian countries, and reportedly contains several compounds that inhibit cholesterol production.
Findings of a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Vol. 150, pp. 830-839) suggested that red yeast rice could help reduce blood lipid levels in people intolerant to statins.
This was followed by findings from a study by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, and the University of Connecticut, which found that dietary supplements of red yeast rice may lower LDL cholesterol levels by 21% (The American Journal of Cardiology,Vol. 105, pp. 664-666).
For the new study Dr Karl and his co-workers recruited 79 people (59 of whom completed the study) and randomly assigned them to one of three groups: One group received a placebo beverage, while the other two groups received a nutraceutical beverage formulated with niacin (12.5 mg per 15-mL dose), phytosterol esters (650 mg), L-carnitine (150 mg), vitamin C (500 mg), and Co-Q-10 (25 mg). One of the nutraceutical beverages also contained red yeast rice (600 mg).
After eight weeks of intervention the researchers measured reductions in LDL and total cholesterol only in the group receiving the red yeast rice-containing beverage. Total cholesterol levels fell by 14% and LDL by 18% over eight weeks.
Dr Karl and his co-workers also noted that the beverage “appears to be safe and well-tolerated”.
“Because the red yeast rice is the only constituent in that drink not found in the other nutraceutical drink, one might be led to conclude that all of the effectiveness of that drink results from the red yeast rice constituent,” they wrote.
“However, it remains possible that other nutraceutical components, although ineffective without red yeast rice, might potentiate the effect and improve the efficacy or tolerability of the effective formulation.”
“There are likely many reasons why only a small fraction of people eligible for statins take them at doses sufficient to achieve their cholesterol goal, but for people that either refuse or are intolerant to statins and other cholesterol-lowering medication, a red yeast rice-containing nutraceutical drink may represent an acceptable alternative.”
Source: Journal of Clinical Lipidology
March-April 2012, Volume 6, Issue 2, Pages 150-158, doi: 10.1016/j.jacl.2011.09.004
“A multicenter study of nutraceutical drinks for cholesterol (evaluating effectiveness and tolerability)”
Authors: M. Karl, M. Rubenstein, C. Rudnick, J. Brejda