How many calories in 1 tablespoon of unsweetened coconut flakes?

Quick Answer

There are approximately 35 calories in 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of unsweetened coconut flakes. Coconut flakes contain mostly fat and fiber, with some protein and carbs as well. A typical serving of 1 tablespoon provides a small amount of several vitamins and minerals too.

Calorie and Macronutrient Breakdown

Here is the calorie and macronutrient breakdown for 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of unsweetened coconut flakes:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 35
Fat 3.5 g
Carbs 1.6 g
Fiber 1.2 g
Protein 0.4 g

As you can see, a 1 tablespoon serving of coconut flakes is high in fat, providing 3.5 grams. The fat in coconut is mostly saturated fat.

Coconut flakes also contain 1.6 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, of which 1.2 grams is fiber. So there is very little digestible carb content.

There is a small amount of protein in coconut flakes, with 0.4 grams per tablespoon.

Overall, unsweetened coconut is very low in net carbs, moderately high in fat, and low in protein. The high natural fiber content is beneficial as well.

Calories from Fat vs Carbs

The majority of calories in unsweetened coconut flakes comes from fat.

Out of the total 35 calories, 31 of those calories (or 89%) come from fat.

Only 4 calories (or 11%) come from carbs.

This makes sense given the high total fat content and low digestible carb content in coconut flakes. It’s important to account for this fat content if you are tracking your calories or macronutrients.

Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to the macronutrients, a 1 tablespoon serving of coconut flakes contains small amounts of several vitamins and minerals:

Vitamin/Mineral % DV
Manganese 13%
Copper 11%
Iron 5%
Phosphorus 2%
Magnesium 2%
Zinc 2%

Coconut flakes contain manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.

Manganese is important for bone health and metabolism. Copper helps form red blood cells.

So while coconut doesn’t have a significant amount of vitamins and minerals compared to the % Daily Value, it does contain a variety of nutrients.

Calories in Different Serving Sizes

Here are the calories in coconut flakes for different serving sizes:

Serving Calories
1 teaspoon (3 grams) 13
1 tablespoon (9 grams) 35
0.25 cup (20 grams) 77
0.33 cup (30 grams) 116
0.5 cup (40 grams) 154
1 cup (80 grams) 308

As you go up in serving size, the calories increase linearly. 0.25 cup of flakes contains 77 calories, 0.5 cup has 154 calories, and 1 full cup provides 308 calories.

When using coconut flakes in recipes or eating them on their own, be mindful of portion sizes according to your own calorie needs. Measure servings accurately using measuring cups or a food scale.

Calories in Sweetened vs Unsweetened

This article has focused on unsweetened coconut flakes. However, you can also purchase sweetened coconut flakes.

Sweetened coconut is coated with sugar or syrup, increasing the carb and calorie content.

Here is a comparison of unsweetened vs sweetened coconut flakes (per 1 tablespoon):

Type Calories Carbs
Unsweetened 35 1.6 g
Sweetened 45 5 g

As you can see, sweetened coconut flakes contain about 10 more calories and 3 more grams of carbs than the unsweetened version.

If you are counting carbs or following a low carb or keto diet, be sure to use unsweetened coconut and avoid the sweetened kind. Check ingredient labels closely.

Uses for Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

Here are some of the most popular ways to eat and use unsweetened coconut flakes:

– Sprinkle over yogurt, oatmeal, or chia pudding
– Mix into granola or trail mixes
– Bake into muffins, cookies, breads
– Coat fish or chicken before baking
– Add texture to curries, stir fries, and sauces
– Mix into homemade energy balls or bars
– Use as crunchy topping for desserts like cakes and brownies
– Infuse into coconut milk for creamy drinks

Coconut flakes work nicely to provide flavor and texture in both sweet and savory recipes. Their naturally sweet and nutty taste pairs well with fruits, nuts, spices, fish, poultry, curries, and more.

Health Benefits

Here are some of the main health benefits associated with unsweetened coconut flakes:

High in healthy fats. Mostly saturated fat, which has been linked to increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels when eaten in moderation.

Low net carbs. The high fiber content offsets most of the total carbohydrates. This makes coconut flakes keto-friendly and good for low carb diets.

Rich in manganese. Supports bone health, metabolism, and antioxidant function.

Contains lauric acid. A medium chain triglyceride with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

High in antioxidants. Contains polyphenols and flavonoids that combat oxidative stress.

May benefit weight loss. The combination of fiber, fat, and low net carbs can increase satiety and reduce appetite.

Gluten free and vegan. Suitable for many dietary needs and restrictions.

Overall, coconut flakes provide a tasty and nutritious crunchy addition to the diet as part of a balanced meal plan. They provide a unique combination of healthy fats, fiber, and nutrients.

Buying Tips

When purchasing unsweetened coconut flakes, here are some helpful buying tips:

– Check the ingredient label to confirm no sugar is added. Avoid terms like “sweetened” or “toasted.”

– Look for organic, sustainably harvested coconut flakes when possible. This indicates more eco-friendly production methods.

– Buy flakes in bulk from health food stores to get better prices. Store in airtight containers.

– Opt for bags or containers over plastic tubs, which can leach chemicals. Glass jars are ideal.

– Avoid bleached coconut flakes, which use chemicals during processing. Unbleached is better.

– Look for reputable brands that specialize in high quality coconut products.

– Check the production date and best buy date to ensure freshness.

With a little label reading, you can easily find pure, additive-free coconut flakes to enjoy all their benefits!

Storing and Food Safety

Here are some tips for proper storage and food safety practices with coconut flakes:

– Store unopened packages in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid high heat or humidity.

– Once opened, transfer coconut flakes to an airtight glass jar or container. Keep in the pantry for up to 6 months.

– For fridge storage, coconut flakes last for about 1 year at temperatures of 40°F (4°C) or below.

– Check for visible mold before eating – discard coconut if mold is present.

– For best quality and freshness, use opened coconut flakes within 4-6 months.

– When repackaging or cooking with coconut, follow good hygiene practices. Avoid cross contamination.

– If coconut smells rancid or tastes off, err on the side of caution and throw it away. Don’t eat bad coconut!

Properly stored, unsweetened coconut flakes have a good shelf life. But use opened packages within several months and refrigerate for long term storage. Always inspect for signs of spoilage before consuming.

Coconut Flour vs Flakes

Coconut flour and coconut flakes come from coconut meat, but have some differences:

Flakes – Made from large chips/ flakes of dried coconut meat. Provides texture.

Flour – Finely ground dried coconut meat. Absorbs liquid.

– Flakes are crunchy, while flour has a soft powdery texture.

– Flour contains more fiber and carbs by volume.

– Flakes have a higher fat percentage by weight.

– Flour works better for baking; flakes give a crunchy topping.

– Flakes are eaten as is; flour is usually an ingredient in recipes.

While both provide coconut flavor, coconut flour and flakes aren’t quite interchangeable. Their different properties make them suited for different uses.

Coconut Flakes vs Desiccated Coconut

Desiccated coconut is another common coconut product used in cooking:

Flakes – Chunky, irregularly sized pieces of dried coconut meat.

Desiccated – Finely shredded dried coconut, snow-white in color.

– Flakes provide more texture, while desiccated coconut is soft.

– Desiccated coconut has a larger surface area, allowing faster rehydration.

– Flakes work better as a crunchy topping or mix-in; desiccated coconut is preferred for reconstituting into coconut milk/cream.

While both provide concentrated coconut flavor, the different shapes and sizes make them better suited for different applications.


Coconut flakes are generally safe when consumed in normal food amounts. Here are a few precautions:

– Those with coconut allergies should avoid coconut products. Allergic reactions can include hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing.

– Limit high-fat coconut foods for issues like pancreatitis or certain gallbladder/bile duct conditions. Consult your healthcare provider.

– While coconut fat may increase HDL cholesterol, it can also raise total and LDL cholesterol for some people. Monitor your cholesterol levels.

– Eat coconut as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Too much could lead to excessive calories or crowding out other nutritious foods.

– Coconut has natural anti-nutrients like phytic acid that may impact mineral absorption in very high amounts. Moderation is key.

For most people, unsweetened coconut flakes can be safely enjoyed as part of an overall nutritious diet that focuses on whole foods. Those with specific medical conditions may need to exercise more caution.


Unsweetened coconut flakes provide 35 calories per tablespoon, mostly from their fat content. They make a tasty, crunchy addition to many dishes and are a versatile ingredient. When buying and storing coconut flakes, opt for unsweetened, unbleached versions in airtight containers. Enjoy coconut flakes as part of a balanced diet to take advantage of their unique nutrition profile!

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