Fasting before a cholesterol test

Ask the doctor

Published: August, 2016

cholesterol test LDL
Image: jarun011/Thinkstock

Q. Do I still need to fast before getting a cholesterol test? I heard that doing so may not be necessary.

A. For decades, we've told people not to eat or drink (except for water) for eight to 12 hours before a cholesterol test. This was based on the belief that fasting provides a more accurate assessment of all the lipids (fats) in the blood, which include cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of fat-carrying particle. But recent studies show that the differences between fasting and nonfasting values for cholesterol are usually negligible.

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