Bagels are one of my favorite bread-style foods. I enjoy their chewiness, which is different from the easy bite of a slice of sandwich bread. With many flavors and just as many topping and filling options, bagels are a versatile food for meals and snacks across the day. All those options also make bagels worth a nutrition discussion.
An average whole-wheat bagel contains around 200 calories, 50g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 8g protein, 350mg sodium, and contains other vitamins and minerals, including folate and magnesium. Bagels typically contain very little fat.
- With Whole Grains. Look for bagels made with 100% whole grains, such as whole wheat. Gluten-free bagels often use a blend of brown rice, tapioca, oats, and/or potato, which tends to lower the amount of fiber in the bagel.
- By Size. As a whole bagel is a lot of calories and carbohydrates for a meal or snack, consider eating half a bagel. Or see if your store has mini bagels or bagel thins, which often come in whole-wheat too. On average, the calories and carbohydrates are cut in half.
- By Type. A main feature of whole-wheat bagels is the added fiber. However, if blueberry bagels – which are commonly made with refined flours and less fiber – are your favorite, for example, no need to deny them. Add them to your cart occasionally, and make the intention to eat them with high-fiber foods, such as a side of strawberries or a mixed-green salad.
- Bagel Chips? Many brands of bagel chips are made with refined grains, cooked with added fat, and may be flavored, all of which means less fiber and more calories and salt. Similar to that blueberry bagel, eat bagel chips occasionally and pair with other high-fiber and lower-sodium foods, like unsalted nuts.
- Healthy Toppings. Cream cheese is a popular spread for bagels. Peanut butter is one of my favorites. To limit calories, use a small amount of spread. To add heart-healthy fats, choose nut-butters and avocado over dairy-based spreads more often.
- Price: Bagel prices will vary by store and region, but often the cost between refined grain (ie. plain bagels) and flavored bagels is the same as whole-wheat bagels. Specialty bagels, like gluten-free, tend to be more expensive.
- Store: If the bagels you bought were refrigerated, store them at home also in the refrigerator. At room temperature, bagels may last a few days before molding. For longer storage, refrigerator or freeze. Toasting a refrigerated or frozen bagel will have better quality than heating in the microwave.
Tip: Separate each bagel in half before freezing. The whole bagel may be hard to separate once frozen.
- Prepare: Use bagels directly from bag, cold, toasted, or however you prefer.
- Eat: The ways to eat a bagel are endless, but popular picks are egg sandwiches, pizza bagels, and with a hefty helping of cream cheese or peanut butter. Share what you like in the comments.
- USDA, Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27
Bagel Pizza (Serves 1)
Try this quick bagel pizza from North Dakota State University Extension Service. For fewer calories, try this recipe with a mini bagel or bagel thin.
1 wheat bagel2 Tbsp spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup shredded cheese
2. Microwave on high, uncovered one to 1½ minutes or until cheese is melted.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 310 calories, 12g fat, 42g carbohydrates, 390mg sodium