While there have been some reports about the health benefits of coconut in the diet, the American Heart Association still recommends you watch your intake because of its saturated fat content. That includes unsweetened coconut flakes. Whether you eat them as a snack or mix them in your oatmeal, unsweetened coconut flakes should be eaten in moderation.
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Concentrated Source of Calories
A 1/4-cup serving of unsweetened coconut flakes, which is 15 grams, contains 100 to 110 calories. The unsweetened coconut flakes are a concentrated source of calories, which means they have a high-calorie content compared to their serving size. That also means they're not a very filling source of calories. To keep your calorie intake under control when eating foods with a high calorie count, like unsweetened coconut flakes, measure out your portion and put the rest away for another day.
Mostly Fat and Saturated Fat
The fat content is the reason for the high calorie count in unsweetened coconut flakes. A 1/4-cup serving of flakes contains 10 grams of total fat, with 9 of those grams as saturated fat. Some of the saturated fat in the coconut is a medium-chain saturated fat, which raises both good and bad cholesterol levels, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, high intakes of saturated fat, even from tropical sources like coconut, increase the risk of heart disease, says the American Heart Association, and they recommend you limit your intake of saturated fat from all sources to less than 7 percent of calorie intake.
Carbs and Protein
The unsweetened coconut flakes contain a small amount of carbs and protein. A 1/4-cup serving of the unsweetened flakes provides 4 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein. Both carbs and protein are essential nutrients your body needs to function properly. Carbs provide energy, while proteins help preserve lean muscle mass and make enzymes and hormones. You should get 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbs and 10 to 35 percent of your calories from protein.
Phosphorus and Iron
Unsweetened coconut flakes are not a significant source of vitamins and minerals, and meet 2 percent of the daily value for iron and 3 percent of the daily value for phosphorus in a 1/4-cup serving. Iron is a mineral necessary for delivering oxygen to your muscles and organs. Eating your unsweetened coconut flakes with a food rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, can help you absorb more of the iron in the flakes. Phosphorus is also a mineral that helps with the formation of your teeth and bones.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Coconut Oil – What Is It All About?
- American Heart Association: Tropical Oils
- Bob's Red Mill: Coconut Flakes, Unsweetened
- iHerb.com: Edward & Sons, Organic Coconut Flakes, Unsweetened, 7 oz (200 g)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin C
- MedlinePlus: Phosphorus in the Diet