Is Canned Grated Coconut Paleo?

coconut-grated-web.jpgWhether the meat is shredded, flaked or grated, coconut is coconut. Shredded coconut is relatively long and thin, flaked is wide and flat, and grated is finely chopped or ground.  Nowadays, most of these products are sold in bags. Remember Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut that came in the small blue can?  I remember it well as it was the only coconut product my mom ever used in recipes.  Alas, it is now sold in a blue bag along side other brands of bagged shredded, flaked or grated coconut.  There are still some brands of canned coconut out there however. Ancel Coco Rallado, Conchita Grated Coconut and Vigo Grated Coconut come to mind.  Should you eat canned grated coconut?  Is canned grated coconut Paleo?

Nutritional Value of Canned Grated Coconut*

Serving Size: ½ cup

  • Calories: 490
  • Total Fat: 15 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 25 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 86 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein:   2 g

*The nutritional values are those of canned Conchita Grated Coconut in Extra Heavy Syrup from www.myfitnesspal.com

Health Benefits of Canned Grated/Flaked Coconut

Unfortunately, there’s not much that’s healthy about canned grated coconut because invariably, it’s full of added refined sugar. Sometimes it’s actually bathed in a supersaturated sugar solution like that of Conchita Grated Coconut in Extra Heavy Syrup. How much sugar are we talking about here? Compare 86 grams of sugar in a ½ cup serving of supersaturated Conchita grated coconut to only 8 grams in ½ cup unsweetened grated coconut.  That’s a difference of 78 grams of sugar, the equivalent to nearly 20 teaspoons!  Such an amount sounds impossible but it’s basic chemistry.  When a solid, in this case sugar, is forced to dissolve into a liquid in greater amounts than would normally occur, a very sweet, carb loaded, thick, heavy syrup results.

Added refined sugars are increasingly recognized as major contributors to the obesity epidemic and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. In addition, refined sugars are highly inflammatory and create advanced glycation end products that cause cell aging. Bad bacteria and pathogenic yeast thrive on sugar, which can result in intestinal overgrowth and gut dysbiosis.  This in turn, can lead to leaky gut and autoimmune disease.

Another problem with canned coconut products is the presence of the chemical biphenol A (BPA) found in can linings. Bisphenol A is an endocrine disrupter that can mimic many of our body’s hormones in potentially harmful ways.  The only way to reduce your exposure to BPA is to reduce your consumption of canned foods or purchase foods in cans that are clearly labeled “BPA-free.”

Is Canned Grated Coconut Paleo?

One of the central tenets of the Paleo diet is the avoidance of refined sugar due to the many deleterious effects it has on our health and therefore, canned grated coconut is not Paleo. Even if you find canned grated coconut that’s unsweetened and contains no other undesirable ingredients, be aware that the can probably contains BPA.  Your best bet is unsweetened shredded coconut or unsweetened grated or flaked coconut sold in bags, not cans.

How to Make Your Own Grated Coconut

To make your own unsweetened grated 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 drain out the coconut water.  Save this for use in other recipes or just drink it up!  Heat your coconut in a 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes or so until it cracks.   Pull it apart or carefully pry it 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 in a blender or food processor.

Sally Barden Johnson

Sally Johnson, RDN, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian and health coach. She is an avid CrossFitter and enjoys working with clients to find the best nutritional solutions within a Paleo/Primal framework to solve their health issues. She also enjoys spending time with her family. She can be found on Instagram at instagram.com/sallyjohnsonrd.