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Learn about the many ways to lower your cholesterol levels
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in every cell in the body which is produced naturally by the liver and can also be obtained from the diet. Found in all animal food products, it is vital for the maintenance of cell membranes, production of vitamin D and bile acid as well as the production of many key hormones such as testosterone and oestrogen. Although vital in the body, too much cholesterol can lead to fatty plaques developing which block the blood vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Combining the healthy living habits of those from countries which border the Mediterranean Sea, such as France, Greece, Italy and Spain have been linked with good heart health and low cholesterol levels. A traditional Mediterranean diet is usually low in meat and dairy products, high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.
Find out everything you need to know about the Mediterranean diet here
Both insoluble and soluble fibre have heart-health benefits, but soluble fibre plays a role in helping lower your LDL levels. Good sources of soluble fibre include oats and oat bran, fruits, beans, lentils, and root vegetables.
Smoking is bad for your health - everyone knows that, so it is no surprise that smoking can raise cholesterol levels. Smoking lowers levels of HDL cholesterol and can injure the lining of the blood vessels. Quitting smoking can help to lower cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure, therefore improving your heart health. Excessive alcohol consumption for a prolonged period of time can increase triglyceride and cholesterol levels which can lead to the development of high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. It is advised that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week to minimise the health risks that alcohol can cause.