Q:

What causes high LDL cholesterol levels?

A:

Quick Answer

Elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are primarily caused by factors within a person's control, such as diet, weight and the amount of physical activity. LDL cholesterol is also impacted by heredity, age and gender, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

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Full Answer

Cholesterol is made by the body and it is also contained in certain foods. Proteins in the blood, called lipoproteins, carry the cholesterol through the blood. LDL cholesterol is considered the bad cholesterol because it can deposit on the artery walls and eventually cause a blockage, states WebMD. High-density lipoprotein is considered the good cholesterol because it returns excess cholesterol back to the liver.

Some foods, particularly those from animal sources such as egg yolks, cheese and meat, can increase cholesterol in the blood. Foods that contain saturated fats and trans fats also contribute to elevated cholesterol. Limiting deep-fried and processed foods, baked goods and full-fat dairy products can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. For some people, eating healthy foods and exercising more often can regulate cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, while others may require cholesterol-lowering medication, according to the American Heart Association.

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