Q: Is coconut oil good for you?
Dr. Anil Punjabi, cardiologist, Ohana Heart: It depends. Coconut oil has been promoted in popular culture as a kind of all-natural health product. But while it might be a good moisturizer for your skin or hair, the truth is that it can do a lot of long-term damage to your heart. That’s because coconut oil is very high in saturated fat, the same kind of “bad” fat found in red meat, bacon and butter. Saturated fat has been linked as a key element in cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.
The American Heart Association has recommended reducing or eliminating saturated fats from your diet. However, reducing saturated fat is not enough. Because if you substitute in refined sugars, simple carbohydrates, trans fat or monounsaturated fat in its place, there has been no long-term benefit.
In order to reap the benefits and reduce your risk of heart disease, you need to replace fats like coconut oil and butter with healthy oils. Healthy oils are high in polyunsaturated fats, which boost your “good” cholesterol and actually have a protective effect on your heart and blood vessels. The chemical composition can change depending on how the oil was processed, making it very important to read the nutrition labels and choose brands that have a higher ratio of polyunsaturated fats to total fats. Visit your local cardiologist or speak to your primary care doctor for more information.
So, keep using coconut oil in beauty products, but switch to healthier oils in the kitchen.
Q: Can I get emergency care on Lanai?
Kerry Pitcher, Maui Health senior director long-term care critical access, Lana’i Community Hospital and Kula Hospital: Absolutely. The Lana’i Community Hospital Emergency Room is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So if you are having a health care emergency, you can be seen by a doctor and get care anytime, day or night. The hospital can also provide some acute care and diagnostic imaging, including X-rays, and laboratory services, as well as long-term care, including skilled and intermediate nursing care.
Lana’i Community Hospital in Lanai City is the sister hospital of Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula Hospital on Maui. As the only hospital on the island, Lana’i Community Hospital provides vital health care services for the people of Lanai. For questions, call 808-565-8450.
* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealthsystem.org/contact.