Chewing the Fat

Cholesterol- should you get it checked? Why do we care?


Every day I deal with patients who have high cholesterol and I feel like most of the time I am trying to convince patients to be worried about it – I’m worried as your doctor so why aren’t you?


People think because its common in Australia, that’s its OK – “Ohhh well my dad and grandpa have high cholesterol… it was always going to happen to me.” That may be – yes, high cholesterol can be genetic -BUT there are lots of things you can do to manage your cholesterol other than taking tablets.


Diet is the main area you need to focus on and here are stop key tips to help – pick a few you can do – because any will help your cholesterol.


  • Avoid fried foods and saturated fats (like butters and creams). Try to eat reduced fat cheese, milk and yoghurt.
  • Be careful with your take aways – avoid fried foods – try and opt for a fresh sandwich, sushis or salads. Treats like pizza, fish and chips are sometimes foods – which means NOT every day.
  • Aim for 2-3 fish or vegetarian meals a week – reducing the amount of meat can help to lower cholesterol.
  • Plant sterol enriched products (there are margarine brands which are labeled) can lower the cholesterol by up to 10 to 15%. If you are using butter, stop and use this instead because it may help!
  • Aim for the 5 and 2 vegetable and fruit serves respectively daily – don’t forget there is good evidence behind this and it will most definitely help your cholesterol.
  • Medication can be an option and lower certain cholesterol parameters by half – but only certain people qualify for this on the PBS in Australia and we try to make people change their lifestyle given this can make a big change before we start prescribing tablets.


High cholesterol increases risk of stroke and heart attacks – 2 big killers in Australia. So if you think having high cholesterol is “normal” – you are mistaken – it’s a killer and there are lots of things you can do to bring the numbers down.


Take a look at your diet – and tell me – can you afford to cut the fat somewhere?