Cholesterol as a risk factor for heart disease

High cholesterol (Lipoproteins) is a common health concern that can increase the risk of heart disease, particularly when combined with other risk factors and metabolic dysfunction. 

While conventional medicine often relies on statins to lower cholesterol levels, the Functional Medicine approach, we use in our clinic, addresses the root causes of high cholesterol. Red rice yeast is a natural remedy that fits well within this holistic strategy, offering an effective way to manage cholesterol levels naturally.

What is Red Rice Yeast?

Red rice yeast is a traditional Chinese medicine made by fermenting rice with the yeast Monascus purpureus. It contains monacolin K, an active ingredient identical to the one found in the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin. This makes red rice yeast a potent natural alternative for reducing cholesterol.

How Does Red Rice Yeast Lower Cholesterol?

Monacolin K in red rice yeast inhibits HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme responsible for cholesterol synthesis in the liver. By blocking this enzyme, red rice yeast reduces cholesterol production. Additionally, it contains sterols, isoflavones, and monounsaturated fatty acids, which also contribute to its cholesterol-lowering effects.

Integrating Red Rice Yeast in a Functional Medicine Approach

Red rice yeast can be an effective component of a broader Functional Medicine strategy, addressing the underlying causes of high cholesterol:

  1. Metabolic Dysfunction: High blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels are key indicators of metabolic syndrome. Addressing these through diet, exercise, and improved sleep can enhance metabolic health and reduce inflammation.

  2. Inflammation: Chronic inflammation is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Sources of inflammation can include obesity, gut infections, and latent viral infections. Reducing inflammation through an anti-inflammatory diet, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and supplements like curcumin and Vitamin C is essential.

  3. Thyroid Function: Low thyroid function is often linked to high cholesterol. Even slightly underactive thyroid function can impact cholesterol levels, making it important to check and manage thyroid health.

  4. Dietary Adjustments: Adopting a Mediterranean diet or the Institute of Functional Medicine’s Cardio-Metabolic food plan can significantly improve cholesterol levels. These diets emphasize vegetables, fish, fruits, and healthy fats like olive oil while reducing saturated fats.

  5. Fibre Intake: Incorporating fibre such as psyllium husk into the diet helps lower cholesterol by binding bile in the gut, which forces the liver to use cholesterol to produce more bile, thus reducing LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Safety and Considerations

Please consult your doctor, especially for those already on cholesterol-lowering medication.


Red rice yeast is a powerful natural remedy for managing cholesterol, especially when combined with a Functional Medicine approach that addresses the root causes of high cholesterol. By integrating red rice yeast with dietary changes, exercise, inflammation reduction, and proper thyroid management, individuals can achieve better cardiovascular health and reduce their risk of heart disease.

If you’re interested in incorporating red rice yeast into your cholesterol management plan, contact Fairfield Nutrition for personalized guidance and support.

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