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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best home cholesterol test kits

Last Updated May 2019

If your cholesterol levels don’t fall within normal ranges, you are at risk for strokes and cardiovascular disease. To stay healthy, lipid profile blood testing as prescribed by your healthcare provider is important. But, in between doctor visits, how do you know if you’re keeping your levels in check?  

Home cholesterol test kits provide an easy way to test various forms of cholesterol and triglycerides. Many tests available on today’s market offer a high degree of accuracy, and some are even approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And while home cholesterol testing should never take the place of thorough lipid testing performed by your doctor, it’s a good tool for monitoring your numbers before your next visit.

Whether this is your first time shopping for a home cholesterol test kit or you are browsing different options to find the best one for your needs, you’ve come to the right place. We have selected the top kits available based on reliability and results and put together a handy shopping guide below to help you choose the right kit for your needs.

When you think of cholesterol, the first thought that probably comes to mind is that you need to keep your numbers low. However, higher levels of HDL in the blood actually provides some protection against “bad” cholesterol.

Understanding cholesterol

Cholesterol is a sterol that is a part of all cells in the body. It is produced naturally by the body and is found in certain types of foods. When you have a lipid panel done at your doctor’s office or a laboratory, the healthcare provider who ordered the test is looking for levels of different types of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, which are fatty acids in the body. Some high numbers indicate levels that can pose risks of future cardiovascular disease, while others are beneficial to your health. Home cholesterol test kits are useful for monitoring these numbers. Here is a closer look at the components that are checked with cholesterol testing:

LDL cholesterol: LDL is the abbreviation for low-density lipoprotein. High levels of LDL cholesterol are the main culprit that can lead to the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. This is the reason it has earned the nickname “bad cholesterol.” Eating fried foods, too much animal fat, and processed snacks can contribute to LDL cholesterol. An optimal level of LDL cholesterol to shoot for is 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or lower.

HDL cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) has been dubbed “good cholesterol” for a reason — it tackles bad cholesterol and helps remove it from your system. Lean fish, fruits and vegetables, and grains help raise HDL levels, which many medical professionals say should be 60 mg/dl or higher.

Triglycerides: High fat levels in the blood can come from eating high-fat, high-sugar diets. When this happens, triglyceride levels go up and can contribute to heart disease. Aim to keep your triglyceride number at 150 mg/dl or lower.

Total cholesterol: This simply refers to an overall number that includes LDL and HDL cholesterol and should ideally be 200 mg/dl or less.

It’s important to remember that ideal numbers can vary due to individual reasons, such as health conditions, age, and other factors. That’s why it’s important to have a professional healthcare provider evaluate your cholesterol numbers and provide guidance before you test at home.

Milligrams per deciliter refers to the amount of a substance in an amount of blood. This metric is typically written as mg/dl and follows numbers that indicate cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Why monitor your cholesterol?

When you have your cholesterol levels checked with your doctor and continue to monitor them with a home-test kit, you will know when you may need to take steps, such as exercise, dietary changes, and even medication, to control them. As we mentioned above, high cholesterol levels are not beneficial to your health and can lead to serious trouble, including atherosclerosis (narrowed or blocked arteries due to a thick buildup of cholesterol), stroke, angina, and heart attack.

Types of home cholesterol test kits


Strip-only tests: This inexpensive home cholesterol test is the most basic and involves placing drops of blood on test strips. Color changes indicate cholesterol numbers. These easy-to-use kits typically include strips, a lancet, and blood collection droppers for several readings and give quick results. The primary drawback is that they have higher reports of inaccuracies than other kits, making them not ideal for consumers who need reliable readings, such as those with known high cholesterol.

Meter tests: Home cholesterol tests that require a meter work similarly to blood glucose tests and provide a fast reading with a decent level of accuracy. It’s also an affordable option — one meter is all that’s needed for repeated testing. You can choose a meter by itself or one that comes with lancets, strips, and blood collection droppers. However, there is a learning curve when you begin using a meter and inconsistent readings can occur. Some kits offer dual capabilities for also testing glucose levels (supplies are also sold separately). 

Lab tests: This type of home cholesterol test kit involves mailing your blood samples to a lab, where they are read by trained lab technicians. Though you only get one test for your money, these are the most comprehensive and accurate of the bunch (some are FDA certified). On the other hand, you may have to wait several weeks for the results. Kits include lancets, blood collection device, and detailed instructions. Some kits also come with alcohol swabs, gauze, and bandages, and include pre-paid envelopes. Note that lab tests are not valid in some states that have regulations against this type of testing.

DID YOU KNOW?

Cholesterol has a waxy-like consistency. Although it’s bad for the heart when numbers aren’t in normal ranges, it also serves many vital roles in the body, such as cell protection.

Home cholesterol test kit prices

Strip-only tests: This option typically has supplies to test your cholesterol levels several times and costs about $20 to $25 per kit.

Meter tests: A complete kit with a meter, lancets, and strips will cost around $100 to $170. For about $40 to $60, you can purchase meters only. Additional lancets and strips are sold separately and range in price from $30 to $100 or a bit more, depending on how many you need.

Lab tests: Although this is a one-time test, the accuracy and professional reading make it worth the cost of about $40 to $65 for many customers.

Tips

  • Instructions vary for each home cholesterol test, but regardless of the type you choose, you must follow them step by step to get the most accurate readings.
  • Don’t use a home cholesterol test if you haven’t fasted. The results won’t be accurate if you do.
  • Since fasting is necessary to get the best results, you’ll want to test your cholesterol first thing in the morning before you have had breakfast.
  • If you are looking for a cholesterol test that provides the kind of accuracy your healthcare provider can give, look for one that is FDA certified.
  • Using a home cholesterol test kit can save you money compared to costs involved with a trip to your doctor’s office or lab.
  • Keep in mind that you’ll have to prick your finger to get blood to perform home cholesterol testing. Although just a few drops are required, this may not be for the faint of heart.
EXPERT TIP

Using a home cholesterol test kit is a good way to keep you motivated to exercise and eat properly in order to keep your numbers in normal ranges.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

From tests that produce results within a few minutes to those you send out to a lab, you have several options when choosing a home cholesterol test kit. In addition to our picks for the best, we also like the KPI Healthcare CURO L5 that comes with all the necessary accessories including a meter that’s easy to read and can also check glucose levels. Although readings are occasionally inconsistent, it earns points for being accurate most of the time and easy to use. We also like CardioChek’s testing kit for including 18 lancets and blood collection droppers and delivering quick readouts. However, it’s a bit challenging to use until you become familiar with the functions, and a few defective models have been reported.

Home cholesterol test kits with meters offer the convenience of quick results, but those that require sending blood samples to a lab have the added benefit of being analyzed by trained technicians.

FAQ

Q. How long should I fast before taking a home cholesterol test?
A.
For the most accurate results, you should fast from nine to 12 hours before taking your blood to test your cholesterol. Following the instructions precisely will increase its accuracy.

Q. What will happen if I don’t fast before testing?
A.
A recent meal, especially one that contains high fat content, can temporarily alter your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you test your blood without the appropriate fasting time, the results could be higher than they would have been had you fasted.

Q. What are some dietary changes I can make to lower my cholesterol naturally?
A.
One of the best things you can do is add foods with fiber to you diet. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are great options. You should also cut down on the amount of animal fats, sugar, and processed foods you consume.

Q. Can a home cholesterol test take the place of having the test done by a doctor?
A.
Using a home cholesterol test to understand your numbers is a good option for saving money, especially for individuals who lack health insurance. As we mentioned, they are also helpful for monitoring your numbers in between tests by your doctor. However, a home test lacks the comprehensive care you will receive from a healthcare professional and should not be used as a substitute for cholesterol tests recommended by a doctor.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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