Do you have high cholesterol and curious about your food options? Dr Benson answers your questions.

Dr Benson,

I have recently been told my cholesterol is too high 6.2.

Are there any cakes for people like me?

If I make cakes at home should I be using a different flour. Someone suggested Almond Flour???

“Good vs Bad Cholesterol”

When you get given a cholesterol result, it is important to ensure you get both the LDL (“Bad” Cholesterol) and HDL (“Good” Cholesterol).  This is because it depends how much of the Total Cholesterol level is made up of the potentially cardiovascular-damaging LDL, compared to how much is made up of the cardiovascular-protective HDL!

In most cases you want to aim for your HDL to make up more than 25% of the total, and for the LDL to be less than 3.5 (or even less than 3.0 to be ideal).

However if we assume your result is suggestive of you having a high LDL level, what can you do about it?

Unfortunately changing the type of flour you use in your cakes really makes no difference at all.  You see our level of LDL is generally a result of 2 things: genetics and bad fats.  And it really has little to do with how much actual cholesterol we eat, which is why eating cholesterol-free or reduced products, as was popular in the late 80’s and 90’s, made little difference.

Instead most of the LDL is made by our liver in response to the amount of saturated fat (animal fat, palm and coconut oil) or trans fats (found in take away foods, snack foods and baked goods) we eat, with some influence from our genes (which we obviously can’t do anything about).

As a result it is best to limit or avoid altogether the following:

Deli meats, fatty meat cuts, sausages, take away foods, full fat dairy products, butter, cream sauces, mayonnaise, coconut and palm products, cakes, biscuits, chips, other snack foods

  • Including or increasing your intake of the good fats in your diet e.g. olive oil, oily fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, ocean trout), flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds, avocados
  • Restricting your alcohol consumption to a maximum of 2 standard drinks a day, and ideally not drinking every day
  • Exercise for at least 30 mins most days of the week e.g. walk with an aim to do 10,000 steps a day
  • Try to attain the healthy weight for your height, and most importantly reduce your waist size
  • Reduce the high-GI carbohydrates in your diet by avoiding white bread, white rice (except Basmati), low-fibre breakfast cereals, excessive amounts of potato, sugar, cakes, biscuits, muffins, soft drinks, cordials, excessive amounts of fruit juice
  • Don’t smoke

Obviously these things are simply not enough in some people.  If someone has a significantly high cholesterol level, or a high risk for cardiovascular disease, then cholesterol-lowering medication is often necessary, and would need to be discussed with your doctor.

So the bad news … for now maybe it’s best to avoid any cake at all!


After studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Benson spent a number of years gaining significant critical care experience by working in hospital emergency departments, before undertaking general practice training. He has a broad experience in military medicine (civilian medical officer for the Royal Australian Navy), telehealth (senior doctor for the federal government’s after-hours GP helpline), women’s health, travel medicine and executive health (medical director of a national corporate health company). He's a strong advocate for science-based medicine, with a passion for preventive health.

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