The athlete’s guide to cholesterol

There’s this persistent idea that we need to lower blood cholesterol by cutting back on the cholesterol we eat, but as research has evolved, it’s been proved false, says Brian St. Pierre, RD, Scarborough, Maine-based director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition. What's more, eating the right kind of fats can actually be beneficial to cholesterol levels. A diet rich in omega-3s from fatty fish can raise your “good” HDL numbers, while monounsaturated fats(avocado, olive oil) can lower “bad” LDL levels.

Understanding what influences your cholesterol (both positively and negatively) can help you make the best choices to keep your heart in shape. Here, three other factors that play a role.


You can inherit genetic mutations that make it more likely you’ll have higher levels of LDL or lower levels of HDL. If you have a family history, talk to your doctor about what steps you need to take to control your levels.

Health conditions

Diabetes and obesity lower HDL and raise LDL levels. Some medications like diuretics and steroids can increase cholesterol, too.

How you move

Intense aerobic exercise helps the body clear cholesterol and triglycerides, notes a review of research in Sports Medicine. The study suggests healthy people do 150 minutes of activity weekly, combining cardio and low-intensity resistance training.

Be a more sustainable athlete

7 eco-friendly habits for athletes

Put pessimism to good use

Turn pessimism into a positive.