The red yeast rice product, xuezhikang, has been tested against placebo on 1,445 heart patients - and with startling results. It reduced the occurrence of a further heart attack by 36.9 per cent, death from heart disease by 31 per cent, stroke by 44 per cent, and the need for heart surgery by 48.6 per cent.
But you can't buy the produce in the US, because drug manufacturer Merck has succeeded in having it banned. The rice naturally contains lovastatin and other statin-like substances called monacolins, which are used in Merck's statin drug. Astonishingly, the company successfully claimed that the rice had breached the patent for its chemical formulation.
The study demonstrated that the rice was just as effective as the statin drug, but without the drug's side effects of muscle problems and hepatic toxicity. This is because the rice contains far lower amounts of lovastatin, and they are more easily assimilated because they are naturally in the food.
(Source: Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 2007; 55: 1015-22).