January 1990

Effects of Exercise, Dietary Cholesterol, and Dietary Fat on Blood Lipids

Author Affiliations

From the General Medicine Unit and the Cardiology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr Johnson is now at the North Canton (Ohio) Medical Foundation.

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(1):137-141. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390130121019

• Exercise, a low fat diet, or a diet low in saturated fat content can each lower plasma total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. We investigated whether these factors together could prevent the lipid-raising effects of dietary cholesterol. Ten healthy, athletic, normolipidemic male volunteers were studied. Two diets of 4 weeks duration each were compared in a randomized, blind crossover design. Diets were identical except for cholesterol content: one contained 600 mg/d; the other 200 mg/d. Both diets contained 15% of calories as protein, 55% as carbohydrate, 30% as fat, and the polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat ratio was 1.5. Exercise level and body weight were kept constant in each subject. As compared with plasma values obtained following the 200-mg/d cholesterol diet, mean values following the 600-mg/d cholesterol diet significantly increased for LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B by 10% and 13%, respectively. Mean plasma triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein 2 and 3, and apolipoprotein A-1 levels did not change significantly. Individual responses, however, were highly variable. Three subjects increased LDL cholesterol by more than 25%; 2 subjects increased LDL cholesterol by 10% to 25%; and 5 subjects had 5% or less change in LDL cholesterol. A dietary cholesterol increase can significantly elevate plasma LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B in certain normolipidemic, healthy men even when they are exercising regularly and consuming a moderately fat restricted, low saturated fat diet. Dietary cholesterol restriction may therefore be justifiable even when other life-style and dietary measures to minimize blood cholesterol are undertaken.

(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:137-141)