A staple in many cuisines, including Thai and Vietnamese, coconut adds natural sweetness and rich flavor to a range of dishes. Shredded coconut provides an alternative to fresh coconut meat, and its long shelf life and relatively low cost make it an economical addition to your pantry. It also provides several beneficial nutrients, including a range of essential minerals along with healthy fat.
While coconut has long had a bad reputation for its saturated fat content, its fatty acids might actually have a beneficial effect on your health. One study, published in "Lipids" in July 2009, found that coconut oil boosts the levels of good cholesterol in your bloodstream, suggesting that it might offer benefits for your cardiovascular health. Another study, published in "Nutrition" in May 2013, found that coconut oil might also offer health benefits to some individuals facing a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Manganese and Selenium
Shredded coconut also contains essential minerals, including manganese and selenium. Both minerals activate enzymes, including antioxidants that your cells need for protection from the damage caused by free radicals. Manganese also promotes healthy nerve function and helps your body produce sex hormones, while selenium supports the function of your thyroid. A half-cup serving of shredded coconut contains about 8 micrograms of selenium, which is 15 percent of the recommended daily intake of 55 micrograms for both men and women. Each serving also provides 67 percent of the recommended daily manganese intake of 1.8 milligrams for women and 52 percent of the 2.3 milligrams recommended for men, according to guidelines established by the Institute of Medicine.
Copper and Iron
Adding shredded coconut to your diet also helps you consume more copper and iron. Your cells need both minerals to fuel your metabolism and support energy function, as well as to make functional red blood cells. Copper also supports healthy nerve function and helps you absorb iron from the foods you eat. Consuming half a cup of shredded coconut boosts your copper intake by 146 micrograms, or 16 percent of your recommended daily intake. Each serving of shredded coconut also offers 0.9 milligrams of iron, which is 5 percent of the recommended daily iron intake for women and 11 percent for men, according to recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine.
Consuming More Shredded Coconut
Add shredded coconut to hot or cold cereals to provide rich flavor. Try pairing it with chopped mango, banana and kiwi to add a tropical twist to your meal. Combine shredded coconut, unsweetened dried fruit, almonds and rolled oats for a healthful homeade muesli, or puree shredded coconut into your smoothies. Unsweetened shredded coconut also makes a welcome addition to savory dishes. Mix shredded coconut, chopped pineapple, purple cabbage, mint and cilantro for a healthy salad, or bake coconut-crusted chicken breasts for your main course.