Monday, April 2, 2018

Health Benefits of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Health Benefits of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Nutritional Value of

Unsweetened Shredded


Serving size: 3 Tablespoons (15 g)
  • Calories: 100
  • Total Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 1 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1 g
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Lauric acid: 6 g
  • Carbohydrate: 4 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 5 mg
  • Fiber: 2 g

Health Benefits of

Unsweetened Shredded


Unsweetened shredded coconut is composed mostly of fat, 90% of which is saturated in the form of medium-chain triglycerides, also called medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs are associated with many health benefits and have been shown to increase HDL cholesterol, provide an immediate source of energy, increase satiety, and increase metabolic rate. Furthermore, the MCFAs in coconut, namely, lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid are antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal. In addition to these benefits, phenolic compounds in coconut act as antioxidants.

Therapeutically, due to their ability to form ketones, MCFAs have been used to improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients as well as uncontrolled seizures in children. For people with limited GI function, MCFAs provide an easily digestible and absorbable form of fat because they do not require the assistance of pancreatic enzymes or bile salts for processing and they transport directly from the intestinal tract to the liver via the portal vein.

Inulin, a fructan, is a prebiotic fiber found in coconut meat that promotes the proliferation of healthy bacteria. However, fructans can aggravate symptoms in people with IBS, SIBO, or FODMAP intolerance and may need to be limited.

Seasonality of

Unsweetened Shredded


Coconuts are available year round but are at their peak October thru December. Green coconuts are immature and are harvested for coconut water. Mature coconuts have a very hard brown shell that is covered with stringy fibers and are harvested for coconut water and meat from which coconut milk, oil and all other coconut products are made.

How to Make Your Own

Unsweetened Shredded


To make your own unsweetened shredded coconut, look for brown mature coconuts that are heavy, have no soft spots other than the eyes, and have a good slosh of liquid when shaken. Using a hammer and a large nail, tap a hole in the softest eye of the coconut and bake in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes or so until it cracks. Pull apart or carefully pry open with a strong knife or screwdriver. Once you get your coconut open, cut the meat out of the shell with a paring knife, remove the brown skin and grate by hand or shred in a food processor. One medium coconut will yield three or four cups of shredded meat. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to six months. Whole coconuts can be kept at room temperature for up to six months.

If you’re not making your own, you can find unsweetened shredded coconut at the supermarket in bulk bins, the baking isle, the specialty food isle or the freezer section. You may have to go to a health food store to find organic products that contain no added sugar, sulfites or preservatives, or you can order these products online.

Protein and Fiber
A 1-cup serving of shredded coconut contains 2.68 grams of protein toward the daily goal of 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. Protein rebuilds cells and helps you maintain healthy tissues and muscles. The same serving of shredded coconut provides 4.2 grams of dietary fiber. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume at least 25 grams of fiber each day. Fiber reduces your risk of constipation and hemorrhoids by encouraging proper digestion and regular bowel movements. The nutrient might lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer as well.


Coconut is a good source of iron, and a 1-cup serving supplies 1.79 milligrams of the 8 milligrams men need each day and the 18 milligrams women require. Iron is crucial for the formation of hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that is responsible for getting oxygen to each part of your body. Without enough iron, your cells don't get sufficient oxygen, which can lead to weakness and fatigue. You also need adequate amounts of iron to support your immune system.


One cup of shredded coconut provides 1.69 milligrams of zinc toward the daily goal of 8 milligrams for women and 11 milligrams for men. Zinc is a mineral crucial to the strength and health of your immune system, and it also plays a critical role in wound healing. The mineral supports normal cell division and enables you to taste, see and smell properly as well.

Considerations and Tips

Because 29.2 grams of the total fat in a serving of shredded coconut are saturated, the food should be viewed as an occasional treat. Regularly consuming too much saturated fat can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Limit yourself to a small sprinkle of shredded coconut to enhance the flavor of foods such as low-fat plain yogurt or a bowl of oatmeal. Cut the amount of shredded coconut in your favorite recipes by half. You'll still get the flavor of the coconut, but you'll reduce the overall fat, calorie and sugar content of the food.

Benefits of Coconut Meat

And this is a fortunate thing as eating food products derived from coconut like coconut oil and coconut meat on a regular basis has profound positive effects to your overall health.

Coconut Meat Benefits:

Coconut and the products derived from it like coconut meat have been for years wrongly deemed as an unhealthy type of food because of its long known high saturated fat content.

 However, a growing body of recent studies have shown that the type of fats present in coconut meat are in fact medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).  When you eat coconut meat, the MCTs it contains are transported from the intestinal tract to the liver and immediately transformed into fuel. This then means there is very little MCTs left to circulate and deposit in fat tissues in the body.

The MCTs in coconut are converted into ketone bodies as well which show potential as a replacement energy substrate for the brain. It is noteworthy that the brain makes use of glucose as energy source. In individuals with degenerative neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, the brain’s capacity to utilize glucose is severely impaired, further contributing to the progress of the disease. Eating MCTs from coconut products like coconut meat may then help increase the body’s ketone levels, potentially offering a dietary therapy approach to alleviating the symptoms and possibly even preventing  the onset of neurological diseases.

Eating coconut meat appears to protect against heart disease and stroke as well. As it turns out, coconut meat’s measurable vitamins A and E, and polyphenols and phytosterols, all work together to decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol, which are fats that stay in the blood and in skin tissues and high levels of which have been found a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. This protective properties of coconut meat is perhaps the reason the Kitavans of Papua New Guinea or the Tokelaus of New Zealand, whose staple food is coconut, have no incidence whatsoever of stroke and heart disease in their respective populations.

Coconut Meat’s Practical Uses:

Coconut meat is so versatile that it can be eaten raw, cooked, or as a preserve. You can top your usual salads with shredded or grated and then lightly toasted coconut meat. You can use a blender to make it into smoothies as well, mixed with organic full-fat yogurt and fruits like bananas and berries.

If you would like a tasteful side dish for your meals, you can fix a simple coconut chutney recipe. Mix fresh shredded coconut meat, ginger juice, fresh mint and coriander leaves, minced garlic, thinly sliced red pepper, lemon juice, and coconut milk in a bowl. You can top this with toasted coconut meat prior to serving if you want to add a subtle sweet and tangy taste.


J Intern Med. 1993 Mar;233(3):269-75.

Apparent absence of stroke and ischaemic heart disease in a traditional Melanesian island: a clinical study in Kitava.

Lindeberg S1, Lundh B.

Author information


On the island of Kitava, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea, a subsistence lifestyle, uninfluenced by western dietary habits, is still maintained. Tubers, fruit, fish and coconut are dietary staples. Of the total population, 1816 subjects were estimated to be older than 3 years and 125 to be 60-96 years old. The frequencies of spontaneous sudden death, exertion-related chest pain, hemiparesis, aphasia and sudden imbalance were assessed by semi-structured interviews in 213 adults aged 20-96. Resting electrocardiograms (ECG's) were recorded in 119 males and 52 females. No case corresponding to stroke, sudden death or angina pectoris was described by the interviewed subjects. Minnesota Code (MC) items 1-5 occurred in 14 ECG's with no significant relation to age, gender or smoking. ST items (MC 4.2 and 4.3) were found in two females and Q items (MC 1.1.2, 1.3.2 and 1.3.3) in three males. Stroke and ischaemic heart disease appear to be absent in this population. PMID:8450295 [Indexed for MEDLINE]


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