Bagel, Anyone?

Stack of BagelsYou’re having a productive morning at work and it’s almost time for lunch. The thought of biting into that warm, chewy bagel smothered with cream cheese, makes your stomach growl. You look at your watch, disheartened, realizing that you still have another 30 minutes before you meet your friend at your favorite bagel shop down the road.

You sigh as you remember that you promised both your doctor and your family that you were going to try to make healthier food choices. But bagels have always been your weakness and you aren’t ready to give them up completely. So, you open your browser and start researching the nutritional information on different types of bagels, trying to figure out which would be the healthiest to order for lunch today.

What is the nutritional content of a bagel?

To find out what the healthiest bagel options are when you grab a bagel at a restaurant, I compiled the nutritional content of the seven most popular bagels. I created this list using using the nutritional information from three popular eateries in the United States: Panera Bakery, Dunkin Donuts and Einstein Bros.

Bagel Everything Egg Plain Salt Poppy
Garlic Cinnamon
Calories 340 300 310 340 340 330 320
Fat(g) 3 2.2 1 1 3.5 1 1
Sat Fat(g) 0 0.4 0 0 0.5 0 0
Sodium(mg) 640 530 620 3560 630 630 500
Carbs(g) 67 56 64 71 66 69 66
Fiber(g) 5 2.4 4 5 5 5 4
Sugar(g) 7 N/A 7 11 7 7 14
Protein(g) 12 11 11 11 12 12 12
Vit. C(%) 2% 1 0 2 0 2 0
Calcium(%) 6% 1 2 6 10 2 4
Iron(%) 20% 23 20 20 25 20 20

Which bagels should I stay away from?

All bagels are not created equal, but they do have similarities when it comes to nutrition. They tend to be heavy on calories and carbohydrates. So, if you are trying to limit either of those, consider reducing your portion size. For example, instead of eating a full bagel, eat half instead and have a salad on the side.

Now the two bagels, which scream “Failure!” in the nutrition category are the salt bagel and the cinnamon raisin bagel. The salt bagel has a whopping 3,560 mg of sodium, which is far above the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium that the American Heart Association recommends a day. And the cinnamon raisin bagel will cost you 35% of your daily recommended sugars for the day, which is not insignificant. (The USDA recommends that you limit your sugar intake to about 40g a day on a 2000 calorie diet)

What about the toppings?

However, healthy eating does not stop with your choice of bagels. Most of us don’t eat bagels plain, we like put something on it. Choosing the right topping can actually be more important than your choice of bagel. For example, if you add 2 oz of cream cheese to your bagel, your lunch suddenly becomes even higher in calories, fat and saturated fat. You now added 200 calories, 20 g of fat and 12 g of saturated fat to your meal. If you chose a healthier option, like hummus, you would only have added an additional 108 calories, 5 g of fat and 0.8 g of saturated fat.

The bottom line:

Bagels are not the healthiest lunch choice, but if you’re going to be at a bagel shop anyway; choose wisely. Stay away from the salt and cinnamon raisin bagels and any additional high fat toppings. Your body will thank you for it!

Resources:  Nutrition value, Panera Bread, Dunkin Donuts, Einstein Bros and Calorie Count


Comments (1)

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  1. Isabel van Sunder says:

    Bagels aren’t my favorites but it is nice to know what to avoid when you eat some.

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