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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What foods should one avoid if you have high cholesterol?

    I have recently had a blood test and the result was that my cholesterol was higher than the reference range. I would like to reduce my cholesterol without going on medication.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 188


    Samantha Ling

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Samantha is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), consultant and food and nutrition enthusiast. Samantha works in a private practice on the Central Coast, NSW, Rostant … View Profile

    In order to reduce your cholesterol levels it may be beneficial to have a general understanding of cholesterol and the role it plays in your body. Generally, there are two types of cholesterol:

    1) Bad Cholesterol (aslo known as LDL-cholesterol) - which is responsible for depositing cholesterol in the walls of your arteries, increasing your risk of high blood pressure and a heart attack.
    2) Good Cholesterol (also known as HDL-cholesterol) - which helps to remove excess cholesterol in your bloodstream and arteries, essentially protecting you against heart disease.

    For these reasons, you want your bad cholesterol to be low and your good cholesterol to be as high as possible. When you had your blood test your doctor would have tested your total cholesterol and both the good and bad cholesterols. The higher your total cholesterol is, the more likely it is that the bad cholesterol is also high, therefore your risk of a heart attack is also increased.

    Lifestyle modification plays an important role in reducing cholesterol levels, such as:
    - Reducing your fat intake (particularly the bad fats known as saturated fat)
      * Swap to low fat dairy products (such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, etc)
      * As cheese is quite high in cholesterol, limit to 1-2 times a week'
      * Trim all visible fat off your meat and remove the skin on chicken
      * Choose lean meat varieties (NOT devon, sausages, frankfurts, salami, liverwurst etc)
      * Limit takeaway to 1-2 times a week
      * Swap butter for margarine
      * Limit the consumption of processed foods, such as biscuits, pastries, pies, sausage rolls, chips/crisps, chocolate etc

    - Increase ‘good fats’ (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) which will help increase your good cholesterol levels
      * Enjoy fish, particularly oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackeral, sardines etc which are high in good fats at least 2 times a week (alternatively fish oil tablets can be taken - you need 3000mg everyday to get the benefits, which is normally around 3x 1000mg capsules)
      * Use olive oil or canola oil in cooking instead of vegetable oils or butter
      * Try a handful of nuts as a snack instead of crisps etc
      * Look for a breakfast cereal with flaxseed/linseed

    - Increase your fibre intake (fibre competes with cholesterol for digestion)
      * Enjoy 2 serves of fruit everyday (1 serve = 1 apple,1  banana, 1 orange,1 pear, 2 kiwifruit
      * Enjoy at least 5 serves of vegetables everyday (1 serve = 1 potato, 1/2 cup cooked
        vegetables, 1 cup salad etc)
      * Swap to wholegrain or wholemeal breads, cereals and pastas where possible
      * Enjoy Oats/Porridge in these colder months (full of beta-glucan which helps reduce

    - Increase physical activity (exercise) which will help increase the good cholesterol

    For more information on ways to reduce your cholesterol it may be worthwhile seeing an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. Good luck!

    Samantha Ling
    Rostant Nutrition
    (Find us on facebook @

  • 24


    Beverly Solsky

    HealthShare Member

    Dear Samantha

    Thank you so much for your in-depth response to my question, you have certainly given me a clear picture as to how I should handle reducing my cholesterol. I appreciate your guidance and assistance.



  • 17


    Samantha Ling

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Samantha is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), consultant and food and nutrition enthusiast. Samantha works in a private practice on the Central Coast, NSW, Rostant … View Profile

    Pleasure :-) ….and good luck!

  • 8


    Nasser Mohammad Zadeh

    HealthShare Member

    Hi there Samantha just need a little help on cooking food on how to cook it right? As frying is not good I have a fish but I don't know how to cooking it salmon and tuna. And I'm craving for a chips what kind of chips can I eat? Is there any biscuit that I can eat?

  • 10


    Nicole Senior

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, consultant, author, speaker and food and health enthusiast. I love talking and writing about food and health.(please note, … View Profile

    Samantha has done a great job answering this question. I would like to add that foods enriched with plant sterols are an easy and very effective way to lower your cholesterol, and backed by the Heart Foundation. Including 2g a day of plant sterols in your diet can reduce your cholesterol by 10% in just 3 weeks. If your cholesterol isn't that high, this may be enough to bring it down into the healthy range. You can find plant sterols (which are natural) added to cholesterol-lowering margarines (eg Flora pro-activ, Logicol), milk (Pura Heart-activ) and some reduced fat cream cheese products (Kraft Live active). Check the amount of plant sterols each food contains on the pack but in general you can get 2g of plant sterols in: 25g (1 rounded tablespoon) of cholesterol-lowering margarine; 2&1/2 cups Heart-activ milk; 40g Live Active cream cheese (or a combination of these). Of course its always best to include these foods in a heart-friendly diet along the lines Samantha has described. If you need more detailed help you can find the information you need plus great recipes in my book Eat to Beat Cholesterol available at bookshops and online at

  • 33


    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    People with high cholesterol should avoid or limit their consumption of certain foods. Knowing which foods to avoid for high cholesterol is an important step, but it doesn't end there. There are a number of other foods that may not be considered high cholesterol foods but that still raise your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) more than high cholesterol foods do.
    Cholesterol comes from animals. If a food does not come from an animal (such as fruits or vegetables), then it does not have cholesterol. Foods with the highest amounts of cholesterol are eggs and liver. For example, an egg yolk has 213 mg of cholesterol.
    Other high cholesterol foods to avoid or eat in moderations are Whole-milk dairy products, Butter, Cream, Ice cream, Cream cheese, Certain shellfish (such as shrimp), Organ meats (such as kidney and brain),Duck and goose (which have more cholesterol than chicken or turkey; the skin on these animals is high in cholesterol).
    Eating high cholesterol foods is just part of the problem for people with elevated cholesterol. In most cases, the main cause of high blood cholesterol is eating too much of certain types of fat. Saturated fat and trans fatty acid (also known as trans fat) are types of fat that raise your cholesterol levels.
    Saturated fat raises your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) level more than anything else in your diet. As part of a heart-healthy diet, it is recommended that people limit their intake of saturated fat. Saturated fats are found in most animal-based food, including Beef, Veal, Poultry,Processed meats (such as hot dogs, sausage, bologna, and salami), Egg yolks, Butter, Whole-milk dairy products (such as cheese, milk, cream, and ice cream) . Baked goods (store-baked goods are often made with egg yolks and saturated fats; they may also contain trans fatty acids). Try and eat lean meat and chicken.
    Some plant-based foods are also high in saturated fats, including Palm oil, Palm kernel oil, Coconuts and coconut oil. Because these foods come from a plant, they are not considered “high cholesterol foods.” Despite this, they can have a big impact on increasing blood cholesterol levels, so these are foods you may want to avoid if your cholesterol levels are already high.
    Trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are made when liquid vegetable oil is heated in the presence of hydrogen. This process is known as hydrogenation. The more hydrogenated an oil is, the harder it will be at room temperature and the more trans fat it will contain.
    Trans fat is found in Commercially baked goods, Margarines,Snack foods (biscuits, cakes and crackers), Processed foods, Fried foods (such as French fries or doughnuts).
    Trans fats are even worse for cholesterol levels than saturated fat and cholesterol itself because they raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol.
    When you are reading food labels, look for the words “hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list. These foods are loaded with trans fat and saturated fat. Also, look for “trans fat” on the food label. It often appears directly below “saturated fat.”
    Try and eat a balanced diet of unprocessed foods – vegetables, fruit, low fat dairy, fish, legumes, low fat meat, chicken.

  • 5


    Mel Haynes


    Chef, Scientist and Nutritionist. I specialise culinary nutrition and disease prevention with plant based diets. View Profile

    While the suggestions above cover very good information on reducing cholesterol (id like to add ricebran oil as an excellent source of phytosterols) There is some excellent evidence that diets which consist mostly of plant based foods is the most effective way to reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease.(1,2)

    For more info on this you can see:

    I would also reccomend looking Amla (indian goose berry)  it comes powdered and is cheap and available to indian spice stores.  

    It has been shown to be very effective at reducing cholesterol. (3)


  • 4


    Dr Kevin Lee

    Endocrinologist, Nuclear Medicine Physician

    Consultant Physician in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Nuclear Medicine. I am on Twitter @dr_kevinlee. I am on Facebook I help patients with obesity, diabetes, thyroid, … View Profile

    Phytosterol or plant stanol enriched food to actively lower LDL cholesterol, recommended by National Heart Foundation (1), particularly for those at increased cardiovascular risk.


    2g of phytosterol-enriched margarine a day lowers LDL-cholesterol by approx 10%


    2.5g of phytosterol-enriched foods such as cereal, certain low fat milkd or certain yoghourt a day lowers LDL-C by approx 5-15%

    (It turns out that people with heart disease cannot readily get to 2g/day of plant sterol without taking enriched foods 

    e.g. 150 apples or 83 oranges or 425 tomatoes to get 2g of plant sterol)


    NOTE that taking plant sterols enriched foods to prevent cardiovascular disease in those not at increased CV risk is controversial.


    So again, it is prudent to discuss with your doctor or dietitian regarding the rationale, relative risks and benefits of taking plant sterol enriched foods



    Dr Kevin Lee

    Consultant Physician Endocrinologist


    1. National Heart Foundation 2009, ‘Position statement: Phytosterol/stanol enriched foods’,

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