Facts About Cholesterol

Is the cholesterol in egg yolks the "good" or "bad" kind? Can you "burn" cholesterol by exercising? Which has more cholesterol, a tablespoon of butter or a cup of peanut butter?

Most people know that fat is bad for them, but two-thirds of Americans are confused about how cholesterol differs from fats. The fat issue is actually the most clearly defined topic in nutrition. Yes, most Americans should cut the fat. They need to do it now and for the rest of their lives, for the sake of their hearts, health, and waistlines.

Cholesterol and Exercise

Can You Burn Off Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of lipid, just as fats are. However, unlike fat, cholesterol can't be exercised off, sweated out, or burned for energy. It is found only in animal products, including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, organ meats, and high-fat dairy products.

Is Cholesterol Good or Bad?

Just as homemade oil-and-vinegar dressing separates into a watery pool with a fat-slick topping, so also would fats and cholesterol if they were dumped directly into the blood. To solve this dilemma, the body transports fat and cholesterol by coating them with a water-soluble "bubble" of protein. This protein-fat bubble is called a lipoprotein.

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) carry cholesterol to the tissues. This is "bad" cholesterol, since high LDL levels are linked to increased risk for heart disease.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) carry excess cholesterol back to the liver, which processes and excretes the cholesterol. HDLs are "good" cholesterol; The more HDL you have, the lower your risk for developing heart disease.
  • HDLs and LDLs are found only in your blood, not in food.

Test Your Cholesterol