Are Bagels Healthy? Nutrition, How To Make, Downsides

Written by Sindhu Koganti

That crispy ring-shaped bread with your favorite spread all over it always tastes yummy, right? Bagels are some of the most popular baked goods with high calories and carbs. You can find different varieties of bagels that can be eaten for breakfast or lunch. Out of all of them, whole grain bagels have gained a reputation for their nutrient profile and health benefits. Also, there has been a lot of debate going on around bagels due to their high calorific values. In this article, we explore whether bagels are good for you to add to your diet, nutrition facts, how to make them healthier, and their downsides. Keep reading!

Bagel Nutrition Facts

As per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of plain bagels contains (1):

  • Energy: 275 kcal
  • Protein: 10.5 g
  • Fat: 1.6 g
  • Carbohydrate: 53.4 g
  • Fiber: 2.3 g
  • Calcium: 74 mg
  • Potassium: 101 mg
  • Sodium: 534 mg
  • Iron: 1.36 mg
  • Copper: 0.163 mg
  • Zinc: 0.88 mg

The nutrients in bagels vary widely based on their ingredients. Bagels are high in carbs and low in proteins and fats. The high carbohydrates and calories in bagels have earned them a bad reputation. But, can bagels be good for you? Scroll down for the answer.

Are Bagels Good For You?

Bagels are made from different ingredients, due to which their nutrient values may change. And, not all types of bagels have the same nutrient profile.

In general, refined wheat flour bagels are high in calories with very few nutrients. On the other hand, whole-grain bagels can offer various vitamins, minerals, and fiber, thus filling you up faster and having potential health benefits. They are filled with more fiber and help promote digestive health (2). This can also improve gastrointestinal health and lower the risk of colon cancer (3).

A study conducted by the National University Of Health Sciences (Lombard) found that two to three servings per day of dietary whole grain can help prevent heart diseases, weight loss, type 2 diabetes, and cancer (4). Also, if you have a weight loss goal, it is important to be mindful of your total calorie expenditure and your total calorie intake. Whole grain intake can help you deal with obesity (5). Look for bagels made from whole grains such as oats, rye, and wheat and consume them in limited quantities to reap maximum benefits.

Note: ‘Gluten-free’ does not always equal ‘whole grain.’ Always check the product labels and ingredient lists before consuming any food.

The health benefits of bagels depend on their type and size. But, how do you make your bagels healthier? Scroll down to learn more in detail.

How To Make Your Bagels Healthier

1. Eat Mindfully

Go for smaller bagels. Always check the product labels to know how many calories and nutrients are readily available by consuming them. If you are on a diet and find that your bagel has more calories than your diet plan, consider a smaller bagel or eat half of a big bagel. You can find many options in smaller bagels along with nutrient information on labels. Also, most brands offer thin or mini bagels that serve your portion size.

Note: If you are on a low-sodium diet, you should avoid eating bagels that contain too much salt.

2. Consider Your Spreads

The ingredients used in the bagel can show its impact on your health. Its nutrient values also change based on the ingredients used. The most nutritious options are made from whole grains and contain little to no added sugar. Also, keep an eye on your sugar intake and use Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese to get that tangy flavor. Consider hummus, avocado, or almond butter instead of cream cheese for more fiber and nutrients. In general, toppings like cream cheese or jam can offer more calories due to their sugar and saturated fat values. You can also make your bagel a nutritious veggie-rich sandwich with cucumber, onions, and sliced tomatoes or egg whites.

Also, watch out for added sugar in sweet bagels. Instead, choose a bagel that is free from added sweeteners.

3. Scoop Out The Interior

Did you know that saving 100 calories per bagel regularly can save you from gaining 10 lbs of weight per year? Yes, if you eat a bagel every day, you may put on 10 lbs in a year. To cut those calories out, start removing the soft interior portion of your bagel and enjoy the exterior part. Use a spoon to remove that soft middle portion of the bagel.

These are some tips that can help make your bagel much healthier. But, how do you make it easily at home? Scroll down for the process.

1. How To Make Bagels Easily At Home

What You Need

  • Bread flour – 3-1/2 cups
  • Warm water – 11/2 cup
  • Kosher salt – 2 teaspoons
  • Dry active yeast – 1 packet
  • Granulated sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Egg – 1
  • Vegetable oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Water – 1 teaspoon

Process

  1. Whisk the warm water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl and set it aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer.
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and mix it on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a bowl.
  5. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and allow the dough to rise for about one hour.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it into eight equal-sized pieces.
  8. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and, using a finger, poke a hole in each piece.
  9. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  10. Working in batches, drop three bagels in the water and cook for one minute per side.
  11. Remove the bagels from the water using a slotted spoon and place them on the sheet pan.
  12. Combine the egg and the tablespoon of water in a small bowl and whisk well. Once all the bagels have been boiled, brush them with the egg wash.
  13. Bake the bagels for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
  14. Allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Here are some more popular bagel recipes.

2. Sunflower And Chia Seed Bagels

What You Need

  • Melted butter – 2 tablespoons
  • Baking powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Sunflower seeds – 2 tablespoons
  • Chia seeds – 1 tablespoon
  • Boiling water – 1 cup
  • Psyllium husk powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Egg -1
  • Coconut flour – ½ cup

Process

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Using a hand whisk, mix the coconut flour, psyllium husk powder, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Add the butter and eggs and mix thoroughly until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the chia seeds and sunflower seeds and gently combine them into the dough mixture using a spoon.
  5. Boil the water and add to the mixture a little bit at a time, stirring thoroughly until you have a dough. Wait for the dough to cool down a bit before using your hands to shape it.
  6. Cut the dough into four equal quarters. Take one of the quarters and roll it into about an 8-inch long log.
  7. Join the two edges of the log together to make it into a bagel shape, pressing firmly.
  8. Place the bagels on a parchment-covered baking tray and put them in the oven.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the bagels over and bake for another 15 minutes.

3. Peanut Butter Bagel

What You Need

  • Split and toasted bagel – 1
  • Raisins – 1 tablespoon
  • Creamy peanut butter – 2 tablespoons
  • Honey – 2 teaspoons

Process

  1. Spread peanut butter all over the cut side of each bagel half.
  2. Drizzle honey each half.
  3. Top off the bagels with raisins.

4. Almond Butter Bagel

What You Need

  • Sliced almonds – 1 teaspoon
  • Almond butter – 1 tablespoon
  • Sliced strawberries – 2
  • Cinnamon raisin bagel – 1
  • Chocolate chips – 1 tablespoon
  • Chia seeds – ¼ teaspoon
  • Sliced banana – 1
  • Cream cheese – 1 tablespoon
  • Nutella – 1 tablespoon

Process

  1. Mix the Nutella and cream cheese until thoroughly combined and refrigerate.
  2. Slice the bagel and toast until it’s golden brown or to the desired doneness.
  3. Spread almond butter on both sides of the bagel.
  4. Pipe 3 dollops of the Nutella-cream cheese mixture on each bagel half.
  5. Garnish each bagel half with sliced strawberries and bananas.
  6. Sprinkle the toasted almonds and chia seeds on the bagel.
  7. Plate the bagel and serve right away.

Are bread and bagel considered the same? Find out the differences in the next section.

Bagel Vs. Bread

A typical medium-sized bagel ranges between 85 to 105 grams and contains more calories and carbs. Each whole-wheat bagel contains 245 calories, while two slices of bread range between 50 to 75 grams and have 138 calories. A serving of whole wheat bread contains 3.8 grams of fiber, and a bagel contains 4 grams of dietary fiber. Also, bagels are richer in selenium, manganese, and vitamins B3 and B9 than bread.

Excess consumption of bagels can lead to some potential drawbacks, which are listed in the following section.

Downsides Of Bagels

Excess or daily consumption of bagels is associated with some downsides such as weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. According to the National Institute of Health, the serving size of an average bagel has nearly doubled over the last 20 years. And, one serving of bagel (6 diameters) offers 350 calories (6). This does not include the spreads you use on your bagel, like cheese or butter. If you find that your bagel is not the healthiest, then try to switch to a low-calorie option or consume fewer or smallers portions. Overconsumption of food with higher calories may lead to weight gain (7).

Also, foods that are rich in refined carbs like bagels may increase the risk of heart disease. A study found that diets that are high in refined carbohydrates or saturated fats may cause coronary heart diseases and diabetes (8), (9).

Conclusion

Though bagels have gotten a bad rep in recent years, a slight change in consumption can make them a healthier choice to add to your diet. Whole grain bagels have a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and health benefits than other types of bagels. Pay attention to the nutrition, calories, and toppings while eating and reduce the portion of bagels to avoid the health risks associated with them.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Bagels, plain, unenriched, with calcium propionate (includes onion, poppy, sesame)
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175050/nutrients
  2. Re-evaluation of the mechanisms of dietary fibre and implications for macronutrient bioaccessibility digestion and postprandial metabolism
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4983777/
  3. Role of dietary fiber in colon cancer: an overview
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10089109/
  4. Health Benefits of Dietary Whole Grains: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28228693/
  5. Whole grains and human health
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19079919/
  6. Serving Sizes and Portions
    https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/distortion.htm
  7. “Calories, in calories out” and macronutrient intake: the hope, hype, and science of calories
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28765272/
  8. Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat?
    https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/91/6/1541/4597147
  9. Markedly increased intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar is associated with the rise of coronary heart disease and diabetes among the Alaskan Inuit
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321628120_Markedly_increased_intake_of_refined_carbohydrates_and_sugar_is_associated_with_the_rise_of_coronary_heart_disease_and_diabetes_among_the_Alaskan_Inuit

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Sindhu Koganti is a Biotechnology graduate and has been in the writing field for over 4 years now. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has hands-on experience in writing articles and press releases on Life Sciences and Healthcare, Food and Beverages, and Chemicals and Materials. When she’s not writing, she loves watching movies and listening to music. She also enjoys traveling.