Lipids Factsheet

Cholesterol is produced by the liver and most cells in the body. It is transported in the blood in lipoproteins. Cholesterol is essential and is used by cells to:

build the structure of cell membranes
make hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones
help your metabolism work efficiently, for example, cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D
produce bile acids, which help the body digest fat and absorb important nutrients.

The two most common types of cholesterol are:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
High-density lipoprotein (HDL)

Triglycerides are the most common fat in the body. Being overweight, eating a lot of high fat and sugary foods, or drinking too much alcohol can increase your triglyceride levels.
High triglycerides, along with either increased LDL cholesterol or decreased HDL cholesterol can increase your chances of developing fatty build-ups in the arteries – and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for high cholesterol include:

  • Age
  • Family History of high Cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Overweight or obesity
  • A diet high carbohydrates and oils

Lipid Testing

Everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every five years. This involves a simple blood test.

A full blood-cholesterol test usually checks:

Ideal Levels

UK/Australia/Europe                                                         USA

Total cholesterol                     Less than 5.6 mmol/L                                            Less than 125 to 200mg/dL
LDL cholesterol                      Less than 3.1 mmol/L                                             Less than 100mg/dL
HDL cholesterol                     Greater than 0.9 mmol/L                                      Greater than 40mg/dL
Triglycerides                           Less than 2.1 mmol/L                                             Less than 149mg/dL
​Non-HDL cholesterol           Less than 4.1 mmol/L                                             Less than 130mg/dL

Reference Ranges do vary between labs and countries.

Once you have your results, consult your Health Practitioner for lifestyle advice.

Download this factsheet in PDF format here.