Add extra biomarkers from as little as £5 to help monitor your health more accurately.
Dr Nicky Keay
Chief Medical Officer & endocrinology expert
Cholesterol plays an important role in our bodies as it helps to maintain healthy cells, aids the absorption of nutrients from the diet, calcium metabolism , sexual reproduction and the balance of salt and water.
However, when levels of LDL or bad cholesterol are raised, it increases the risk of suffering from heart disease. If left unchecked, high levels of cholesterol in the blood can result in a heart attack or stroke.
Our home cholesterol test kit will analyse your levels of good and bad cholesterol as well as triglycerides.
Did you know that not all cholesterol is bad for us? When talking about cholesterol, the terms LDL and HDL are often discussed. These are lipoproteins, made of protein and fat. They are responsible for transporting cholesterol around the body in the bloodstream.
There are two types:
LDL is considered bad because large amounts of it can cause plaques to build up on the artery walls. This leads to the blood vessels becoming narrow and blood flow being restricted. The restriction may result in blood clots to loosen and block blood flow completely, resulting in a heart attack or stroke. Read more about LDL.
HDL or good cholesterol, on the other hand, transports LDL to the liver where it can be broken down and removed from the body. So, HDL helps to keep the cardiovascular system healthy and high levels of HDL have a protective role against heart attacks and strokes.
This is why it’s important to know the breakdown of your HDL and LDL levels, as a high total cholesterol test may be due to high levels of good cholesterol.
Our home cholesterol test kit gives you detailed insight into your cholesterol levels and includes both HDL and LDL as well as triglyceride levels. So, you can be sure to get a good understanding of your cardiovascular health and the changes needed to improve.
High cholesterol can affect anyone and there isn’t just one simple cause. There are some factors which you can control when it comes to your cholesterol, but there are some you can’t. That’s why it is important to take control of your health and proactively look for ways to improve your cholesterol levels.
Factors which can contribute to high cholesterol levels include:
According to Heart UK, more than 50% of adults in the UK have high cholesterol levels, placing them at greater risk of developing heart disease. Public Health England estimate that 60% of the UK adult population has high levels. Our data shows that 43% of Forth customers have high LDL cholesterol levels.
Other than those with a poor diet and lifestyle there are other factors that put you at an increased risk including:
Whatever your risk level, a cholesterol check is a good way to understand the amount of cholesterol in your body so you can make the right lifestyle changes.
“Lifestyle, diet, age, pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure and family history all play a key role in your risk of developing heart disease. People can have high cholesterol levels without knowing it, so it’s important to check your levels. Total cholesterol should be 5 or below, with HDL (good cholesterol) being 1 or above and LDL (bad cholesterol) being 3 or below. For most people, exercise, and a healthy diet is enough to bring their cholesterol levels within the normal range. Some people have what’s called inherited high cholesterol or familial hypercholesterolaemia where the body cannot get rid of LDL cholesterol, causing very high levels. If your LDL levels are high, you will need to discuss your results with your GP. If you’ve had a close family member suffer a heart attack under the age of 60 then it’s even more important to get yourself tested.”
Want to improve your health & wellbeing? Forth gives you insight into your body’s key biomarkers. By tracking essential markers overtime you can build a picture of your own unique self and discover how your body responds to the changes you make so you can reach your personal best.
Cholesterol is waxy, fatty substance made in your liver which is vital for our survival. It has three main functions in the human body:
Cholesterol is also available in your diet by eating meat and dairy products. So, what you eat also plays a critical role in the level of cholesterol in your body.
It’s good to keep a check on your cholesterol at regular intervals especially if you are trying to reduce your levels of bad fat and increase the good type. Unfortunately many of us struggle to keep LDL within the healthy range, so tracking every 4-6 months let’s you know if you heading in the right direction.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key to lowering cholesterol levels. A diet high in saturated fat, often found in foods like cakes, biscuits, pastries, meat pies, fatty cuts of meat, processed meat, butter, lard, and hard cheese, is a major contributory factor in high cholesterol levels.
Swapping these for foods that contain unsaturated fat like oily fish, nuts, vegetable oils and spreads can help to lower your cholesterol levels. It’s also important to include plenty of fibre in your diet. Fibre not only benefits your digestive system but reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and you should aim to eat 30g per day, sources include:
Total cholesterol is the complete measurement of cholesterol in the blood, including good and bad. Unfortunately, a total cholesterol test alone will not give you the breakdown of the differing cholesterol types, so it’s important also test your LDL and HDL levels.
When you complete our cholesterol home test kit, you’ll receive your HDL, LDL and total cholesterol, but you’ll also get your triglyceride levels.
Triglycerides are also a type of fat which are stored in the body’s cells. They are a combination of saturated fat and unsaturated fat. They are the main source of energy for your body and are made by your liver as well as acquired through your diet.
When you eat foods containing triglycerides, they are used either straight away for energy or stored in the cells to be used later. Just like cholesterol, high triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease because they also contribute to narrowing arteries and restricted blood flow to the heart, brain, and other major organs.
Research shows that regular physical activity has a positive effect on cholesterol levels and can lower your level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and help to increase your level of good cholesterol (HDL). Individuals who have been mostly sedentary are recommended to begin with prolonged moderate-intensity aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, gardening, dancing, or cycling.
If this type of exercise is accompanied by resistance training, there is some evidence to suggest that it may enhance the benefits on cholesterol levels in the body.
Overall, a healthy lifestyle, consisting of a balanced diet, low in saturated fat, alongside regular physical activity can have positive effects on your cholesterol levels.