LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) is a molecule made of lipids and proteins which transports cholesterol, triglycerides and other fats to various tissues throughout the body. Too much LDL cholesterol, commonly called 'bad cholesterol', can cause fatty deposits to accumulate inside artery walls, potentially leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
What might a low result mean?
Lower levels of LDL cholesterol are considered to be protective against heart disease as there is less cholesterol available to be deposited on artery walls.
What might a high result mean?
Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if combined with other risk factors such as elevated triglycerides, raised blood sugar and high blood pressure. If your body has more cholesterol than you need, LDL can deposit cholesterol and fats on artery walls, which can form plaques and obstruct blood flow.
How might I improve my result?
You may be able to lower your LDL cholesterol levels by making changes to your diet, especially by cutting down on saturated fats and increasing your intake of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Animal foods containing high levels of saturated fats (including red meat and cheeses) can also contain high amounts of cholesterol. Unlike animal products, plants do not contain cholesterol so eating more fresh fruit and vegetables as well as seeds, nuts and whole grains in place of animal fats can help to lower cholesterol levels.
Exercising more and limiting alcohol consumption can also help to lower the risk of cholesterol-related diseases.
As only some of the cholesterol in the body comes from the food we eat, it may be difficult for some people, especially if they have inherited high cholesterol, to lower it through diet and lifestyle alone.