Nutrients cut cholesterol and risk for heart attack and death in three new studies.
In a cholesterol study, researchers wanted to find an alternative to statin drugs because some people can’t or won’t take them. Doctors gave simvastatin (ZOCOR) to 74 participants with high cholesterol or a combination of red yeast rice and omega-3 fish oil along with tips for restorative lifestyle changes. Participants took red yeast rice containing 5.3 mg of monacolin K—the active ingredient that inhibits cholesterol—2,106 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1,680 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day.
After 12 weeks, those in the red yeast rice group had 42 percent lower LDL “bad” cholesterol compared to 40 percent lower for the simvastatin group. The red yeast rice group also had 29 percent lower triglycerides, the most common form of fat in the body, compared to nine percent lower for simvastatin. The red yeast rice group also had five percent less body weight compared to a slight weight gain for simvastatin. Doctors noted the study was a comprehensive, holistic approach to cutting blood fats and said, “These results…show a potential benefit of an alternative, naturopathic approach to a common medical condition.”
In a heart disease study, about 4,000 men and 900 women, average age 60, who had had a heart attack, took 600 mg of red yeast rice extract per day or a placebo. After seven weeks, those in the red yeast rice group had 20 percent lower LDL compared to four percent lower for placebo. After an average of 4.5 years, those in the red yeast rice group were 45 percent less likely to have had another heart attack or to have died from heart disease compared to placebo.
In a blood vessel study, 17 healthy men ate a high-fat meal with or without five grams of EPA. Researchers measured how stiff
the blood vessels were after the meal and found that those in the EPA group had significantly more flexible arteries compared to placebo. Flexible arteries lower risk for heart disease.
Reference: Mayo Clinic Proceedings; 2008, Vol. 83, No. 7, 758-64.