Promoters say cholesterol is a nutrient – not true

I am a bit stunned by argument for consuming cholesterol by because the body makes all the cholesterol it needs (about a gram a day)and a dietary amount is unnecessary.(1) For this reason, I’m not sure I can bring myself to call the lipid a nutrient.

While it is true that cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs may be considered good for the body and could even reduce risk heart disease, these benefits are not attributed to their cholesterol amounts, but to other nutrients that come with the cholesterol.(2)

From what I can gather, the only real reason for seeking out dietary cholesterol is if a person has a genetic disorder that would interfere with the body’s own cholesterol production.(3)


1. American Heart Association. Cholesterol. Available at: Accessed on November 1, 2008.

2. Harvard’s School of Public Health. Nutrition Source: Eggs and heart disease. Available at: Accessed on November 1, 2008.

3. University of Utah Genetic Science Learning Center. Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome. Available at: Accessed on November 1, 2008.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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