Red yeast rice supplement reduces LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, in new study

August 22, 2018

In the study, researchers observed “clinically meaningful” lipid-lowering properties of Argicolina, as well as a significant reduction of triglyceride levels.

A novel dietary supplement containing the active ingredient monacolin K from red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus), as well as L-arginine, coenzyme Q10, and ascorbic acid, branded Argicolina (Damor Pharmaceuticals; Naples, Italy), may be effective in lowering levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, according to results from a new study1 published in Lipids in Health and Disease. In the study, researchers observed “clinically meaningful” lipid-lowering properties of Argicolina, as well as a significant reduction of triglyceride levels.

The study authors write that one of the key risk factors of cardiovascular disease, which is currently the leading cause of death, is dyslipidemia, and particularly hypercholesterolemia. Although maintaining a good diet and exercise regimen can help to lower LDL cholesterol, many patients turn to lipid-lowering drug treatments, which the authors say can bring unwanted side effects. For patients with milder forms of hypercholesterolemia, or those who do not want to take a drug treatment, dietary supplements could potentially provide an alternative.

In this study, the researchers focused on a novel dietary supplement containing monacolin K, a substance obtained during the rice fermentation process by the fungus Monascus purpureus. Monacolin K has been studied previously for its lipid-lowering properties, and in several published studies, monacolin K was also shown to reduce serum total cholesterol. In the current study, the researchers sought to determine whether a supplement containing not only monacolin K, but also the essential amino acid L-arginine and coenzyme 10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant that is frequently formulated into dietary supplements targeting heart health, could provide further lipid-lowering benefits.

“The diverse and complementary properties of the components of [Argicolina] suggest that this product may be useful in treating subjects with hyperlipidemia or cardiovascular risk,” the authors explain in the study. Specifically, the researchers’ aim was to determine the lipid-lowering activity and safety of Argicolina in subjects with mild-to-moderate hypercholesterolemia, compared to a commercially available dietary supplement, branded Normolip 5 (ESI; Savona, Italy), containing monacolin K and CoQ10.

The single-center, randomized, crossover study included 19 subjects between the ages of 18-75 years with serum LDL cholesterol between 130 mg/dL and 180 mg/dL. Patients were randomized to receive both supplements, consisting of either one sachet of Argicolina or one capsule of Normolip 5, each day for eight weeks, separated by a four-week washout period. At five visits, researchers assessed subjects’ total cholesterol levels, levels of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood glucose levels, among other parameters. In addition, the researchers measured subjects’ brachial arterial pressure and heart rate at visits one, three, four, and five.

Both Argicolina and Normalip 5 significantly reduced subjects’ levels of LDL cholesterol, by 25.6% and 23.3%, respectively. Both Argicolina and Normalip 5 reduced subjects’ total cholesterol, although the between-treatment comparison indicated a greater, although not significant, reduction in total cholesterol with Argicolina. Argicolina did not appear to alter subjects’ HDL cholesterol, while HDL cholesterol levels increased significantly with Normalip 5. In addition, subjects supplementing with Argicolina exhibited significantly lower levels of triglycerides compared to subjects supplementing with Normalip 5.

The researchers ultimately concluded that both red yeast rice supplements lowered LDL cholesterol. They also said the current study results “confirm the clinically meaningful lipid-lowering properties of” Argicolina, which achieves this without significant effects on HDL. They also pointed to Argicolina’s efficacy in reducing triglycerides, which they posit may be due to the presence of L-arginine in the formulation.

Damor funded the study.

 

 

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References:

1. Magno S et al., “LDL-cholesterol lowering effect of a new dietary supplement: an open label, controlled, randomized, cross-over clinical trial in patients with mild-to-moderate hypercholesterolemia,” Lipids in Health and Diseases. Published online May 24, 2018.