PHOENIX -- We all know foods like butter, ice cream and fatty meats can raise cholesterol. But there are foods out there that can actually help lower your cholesterol.
"You should have a cholesterol level below 200," Dr. Art Mollen says. "That's really important. In addition to that, try to keep that 'good guy' cholesterol up above 50. The LDL, which is called the 'bad guy' cholesterol, try to get that down to about 70."
On Tuesday's Good Morning Arizona, Dr.Mollen told Kaley O'Kelley that those cholesterol-lowering foods include fatty fish, walnuts, oatmeal, oat bran, and foods fortified with plant sterols. A diet combining those superfoods can help reduce your levels of "bad" cholesterol, or LDL.
Oatmeal and oat bran can bring down bad cholesterol without lowering your levels of good cholesterol, thanks to the fiber in oatmeal. There are 3 grams of fiber in oatmeal, enough to help make a difference.
While nuts often get a bad rap for being too fatty, they also contain lots of protein, fiber, healthy monosaturated fats, vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.
"Walnuts are actually very, very good because they contain fatty acids," says Dr. Mollen. "These Omega-3 fatty acids help lower triglycerides." Triglycerides are a type of fat in the bloodstream.
Plant sterols and stanols are substances found naturally in many vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds and nuts. You can also find them in some cooking oils, salad dressings, milk, yogurt and snack bars.
But foods aren't magic. While changing your diet may help, many people still need drugs to reduce their risk of heart disease.