Red yeast rice, also called Went Yeast, has been used for centuries in China as both food and medicine. It is made by fermenting a type of yeast called Monascus purpureus over red rice. In Chinese medicine, red yeast rice is used to lower cholesterol, improve blood circulation, and improve digestion.
Red yeast rice is what is referred to, in Japanese, as a koji, meaning ‘grain or bean overgrown with a mold culture’, a food preparation tradition going back to ca. 300 BC.In both the scientific and popular literature in English that draws principally on Japanese, it is most often known as “red rice koji”. English works favoring Chinese sources may prefer the translation “red yeast rice”.
Red yeast rice is used to colour a wide variety of food products, including pickled tofu, red rice vinegar, char siu, Peking Duck, and Chinese pastries that require red food colouring. It is also traditionally used in the production of several types of Chinese wine, Japanese sake (akaisake), and Korean rice wine (hongju), imparting a reddish colour to these wines.
Traditional Chinese medicine
In addition to its culinary use, red yeast rice is also used in Chinese herbology and traditional Chinese medicine.It is taken internally to invigorate the body, aid in digestion, and revitalize the blood.
Red yeast rice and drugs
In the late 1970s, researchers in the United States and Japan were isolating lovastatin from Aspergillus and monacolins from Monascus, respectively, the latter being the same fungus used to make red yeast rice but cultured under carefully controlled conditions. Chemical analysis soon showed that lovastatin and monacolin K are identical. The article “The origin of statins” summarizes how the two isolations, documentations and patent applications were just months apart. Lovastatin became the patented, prescription drug Mevacor for Merck & Co. Red yeast rice went on to become a contentious non-prescription dietary supplement in the United States and other countries.
14 oz, bag.
Product of China.