Everyone over 40 should have a mental note of their cholesterol level in the same way we all know our bank pin number, according to the latest advice from Public Health England (PHE).
But how do you find out your cholesterol level and what is a normal cholesterol level?
How do I find out my cholesterol level?
You can check your cholesterol by going for an NHS Health Check. Public health bodies in the UK have created a new ten-year campaign to boost the nation's heart health, partly by promoting these free check-ups.
It's a simple step that could save your life; elevated blood cholesterol is linked to cardiovascular disease, causing heart attacks and strokes. Poor heart health also leads to kidney disease and dementia.
Today, one in four deaths in England is caused by diseases of the heart and circulation problems. NHS England, which is involved in the cholesterol testing campaign, says that this is the equivalent of someone dying every four minutes.
The new NHS cholesterol testing programme
The new ten-year NHS cholesterol-testing programme is supported by further tests to detect dangerously high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat that can also lead to blood clots and strokes).
The target is to get 75% of all 40 to 74 year-olds to sign up for regular cholesterol checks by 2029.
Most people with these early symptoms of heart disease have no idea anything is wrong.
NHS England also says the majority of cardiovascular disease cases are preventable.
Adopting a healthy diet rich in nutrients that are beneficial for the heart, such as the Mediterranean diet, is a good way to help reduce your cholesterol levels.
If you know your cholesterol level is about right, supplementing your diet with black garlic can also help to ensure it stays that way.
What is a 'normal' cholesterol level?
Total cholesterol in healthy adults should be 5mmol/L – that's the number of molecules of cholesterol in a litre of blood.
People who are overweight, have high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease are recommended to keep their cholesterol level at 4mmol/L.
How Black Garlic+ helped Jackie lower her cholesterol.
One of our many satisfied Black Garlic+ customers is 65 year-old Jackie Elsom. She used it to help lower her total cholesterol from 6.5mmol/L to a healthy 5.0.
She had previously undertaken a health check which showed that at 65 her heart age was already 72.
‘We’re all born with a set of genes but it’s what you do with them that counts,’ she says.
‘I chose to take supplements to help.
'When I saw the numbers coming down after I started taking Black Garlic+, I felt exhilarated. It meant I’m going in the right direction.
'You can’t change everything about your health but there’s clearly something you can do for your heart. You can make sure you get the right nutrition and keep fit.’
Taking control of her heart health has made Jackie determined to make the most of retirement. ‘I was washing elephants in Thailand at Christmas and now I’m off to Sri Lanka,’ she says.
It's easy to find out where to get an NHS health check near you. Simply enter your town or postcode into this search box on the NHS website.
You can also do an NHS online ‘heart age’ test. This will tell you if your heart function is deteriorating at a faster rate than the rest of your body. Click here to take part in the 'heart age' test.
You can read the BBC's article here: 'Know your cholesterol like you know your Pin code'.
You might also be interested in reading another BBC article, 'How your heart age is key to heart attack or stroke risk'.