Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) is the "lousy" or "bad" cholesterol carried within a lipoprotein in the blood whose density, when serum is ultracentrifuged, lies between the very low-density (VLDL) and high-density (HDL) lipoproteins. Low-density lipoproteins are deposited by blood beneath the lining of arteries, where they are oxidized and stimulate the formation of cholesterol-containing foam cells, which are the abnormal cells responsible for the development of atherosclerosis. Lowering LDL cholesterol by dietary or pharmacologic means has been shown to decrease the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death. Eating animal and dairy fat, partially hydrogenated fats used in pastries and fried fast foods, and high levels of dietary cholesterol can all elevate LDL cholesterol.
DONALD A. SMITH