A cholesterol test is a blood test that measures levels of fatty substances called lipids in the blood, and cholesterol is one type of lipid.


High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of cholesterol being deposited within the walls of arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through.  This can cause atherosclerosis and put the person at risk of heart disease and stroke.  The following lipids are tested during a cholesterol test.


Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is called the ‘bad’ cholesterol and it tends to be deposited in arteries of high risk people.


High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is called the ‘good’ cholesterol as it assists the body to transport the excess cholesterol back to the liver for excretion.  It is very advantageous to have good levels of HDL’s.


Triglycerides are another type of lipid that circulates in the blood mainly in a different lipoprotein called a very-low density lipoprotein (VLDL).  Your body will convert excess kilojoules in the diet into triglycerides, to be stored in fat cells.  A raised level of triglycerides can be caused by consuming too many kilojoules, by drinking too much alcohol, or by having insulin resistance and diabetes.  A high level of triglycerides can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if your HDL cholesterol is low.


The total cholesterol in your blood gives an overall level of cholesterol, however the most recent position statement by the Heart Foundation (2005) stresses that levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol are more important than those of total cholesterol.


Your health care practitioner (naturopath or general practitioner) can refer you for a cholesterol test, however usually the test will be in conjunction with a liver function test and a fasting glucose. 


If your cholesterol is assessed as being a risk for you, then your health care practitioner will advise of dietary and exercise interventions as well as supplementation or natural medication, as required.


Please click HERE for a short video on how atherosclerosis develops from cholesterol.