We investigated the effect of diet on high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in 59 healthy middle-aged marathon runners, 85 joggers, and 74 inactive men. Marathon runners and joggers reported eating less red meat (P<0.0001), bacon (P<0.05), and sausage (P<0.01) than did the inactive men, although meat consumption was not significantly correlated with HDL. Results suggest that HDL differences (marathon runners, 65 mg per deciliter; joggers, 58 mg per deciliter; inactive men, 43 mg per deciliter) among the three groups were primarily the result of distance run, not dietary factors. Distance run was also the best predictor of the HDL total cholesterol ratio and of total cholesterol (a negative correlation), and it was second only to weight in predicting triglyceride levels.
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