Red yeast rice — it's been a staple of some Asian countries for more than a thousand years. When it’s used as food coloring, it gives peking duck its signature red glow. But when it’s used as an herbal medicine — it lowers cholesterol. Red yeast rice is produced when yeast grows on rice. A study released today followed a group of people who stopped taking statins because it left them with severe muscle pains. In the study, half of the participants took 1800 mg of red yeast rice supplements every day. After 12 weeks, those taking the supplements saw their LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” lower by 27 percent. Only 6 percent of those who did not get the supplements saw their LDL decrease. Earlier research on heart attack patients showed those who took red yeast rice every day were 45 percent less likely to have another attack within five years. However, the supplement doesn’t come without controversy. Whether it’s purchased as dried grains, ground powder or a pill from a health food store, it’s difficult to be certain exactly how much of the active ingredient your consuming or whether it’s been contaminated in any way. Therefore, patients are advised to consult their doctor. For more on heart health, and how red yeast rice can help your heart, watch John McKenzie’s report on World News at 6:30pm ET.