Shredded Coconut: More Than A Dessert Topping

Shredded coconut consists of the inner part of the coconut seed that has been shredded and dried. Coconut cultivation began in two places: on Southeast Asian Islands — including the Philippines and Indonesia — and in the region around the Indian Ocean such as in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Humans in these regions carried coconuts with them as they moved from place to place and the coconuts themselves were carried to other places on ocean currents.

Marco Polo would learn about coconuts during his travels as would Sir Francis Drake when he came across them a few centuries later. They would be brought to the New World and cultivated.

In the US, the demand for coconut increased in 1895 when a Philadelphian miller named Franklin Baker received a shipment of coconuts from Cuba as a payment. Baker had no idea what to do with them and attempted to sell them to the only local coconut merchant he could find. The coconut seller’s business was failing and he could not afford to buy them.

An idea occurred to Baker at that point. He understood that coconuts were difficult to use. He purchased the dealer’s business and went about creating a demand for an easier to use form of coconut.

He set up his mill to crack, peel and shred coconut and then began selling shredded coconut to bakers and housewives. His investment paid off soon after when coconuts became popular across America and the market began clamoring for coconut-based desserts and baked goods.

Shredded coconut flavor profile

Shredded coconut gives you the rich nuttiness of coconut combined with a slight crunch.

Health benefits of shredded coconut

Shredded coconut is not exactly a superfood in the sense that it does not have a high concentration of any nutrients nor does it have a vast range of nutrients; however, it can provide health benefits because of the few beneficial compounds that it does contain. They include:

  • Fiber: Shredded coconut is rich in insoluble fiber, with a cup providing more than 20 percent of the fiber you need daily.
  • Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil: Researchers believe that medium-chain triglyceride oil is important for promoting feelings of fullness and helps to burn fat at the same time.

Shredded coconut in your diet can help with the treatment and prevention of conditions like:

  • Constipation: Because it is rich in fiber, shredded coconut will help food to move through your gut more easily thus preventing or relieving constipation.
  • Heart disease: Coconut oil can help to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, which lowers your risk of heart disease.
  • Obesity: The MCT oil in coconut can help you to eat less and may help your body to burn fat as well. Cutting calories and exercise are two effective strategies for fighting obesity. Note that to get the full weight-loss benefits of shredded coconut, you will need to use unsweetened shredded coconut rather than the sweetened variety which has more calories.
  • Fatigue: Coconut is rich in one mineral: iron. Your body needs iron to transport oxygen. Without enough of it, your cells won’t produce energy and you will suffer from fatigue.

Common uses

Uses shredded coconut in classic dessert recipes like coconut cream pies, macaroons, and coconut cake. Use it in savory dishes like the breading for coconut shrimp.