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Is red yeast rice the same as red rice?

No, red yeast rice (also known as red fermented rice) and red rice is not the same. Red rice is a type of whole grain rice which is covered by a red coloured rice kernel. It contains a lot of fibre, Vitamin B as well as other minerals such as iron and zinc. It is generally more nutritious than white rice. Red yeast rice, or red fermented rice is produced by fermenting rice with fungus. It is not consumed as main meal but it’s used as food colourant, flavour enhancer, preservation, wine brewing and also use as Chinese medicine.

During fermentation of red yeast rice, a kind of pigment is produced and is chemically identical to the active ingredient to lower the cholesterol level. Such drug may affect the blood cholesterol levels and may cause some side effects such as liver toxicity and muscle problems. Although during fermentation, it will produce such pigment, there may not be or may contain a little of such active ingredient when serve. Red rice can be part of balanced diet, consumers should seek medical advise on the consumption of red yeast rice.

 

Information by: Registered Dietitian from Hong Kong Adventist Hospital