Bagel Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Bagel nutritional facts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Are you a bagel lover who enjoys a toasted bagel in the morning or a hearty bagel sandwich for lunch? With so many flavors and styles to choose from, bagels are a convenient and versatile food.

You might not know that bagel nutrition has changed over the years because of the way they are made. If you're trying to be mindful of your daily calories or other key nutrients, you'll want to carefully check the nutrition info for the bagel you choose.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one large bagel 3 1/2 to 4" in diameter (131g).

  • Calories: 346
  • Fat: 1.7g
  • Sodium: 553mg
  • Carbohydrates: 68g
  • Fiber: 2.1g
  • Sugars: 11g
  • Protein: 13.8g

Most plain bagels are low in saturated fat and usually contain no cholesterol or sugar. They can also be a good source of thiamin.

Your bagel's calorie count and nutrition will vary depending on the brand that you buy. For example, Lender's Plain New York Style Bagels (frozen) only provide 230 calories but are made with high fructose corn syrup. As a result, you'll consume 3 grams of sugar with each bagel.

You also need to consider the size of the bagel you buy. Bagels have increased in size over the years. 20 years ago, a standard bagel was just 3 inches in diameter and had 140 calories (according to data from the National Institutes of Health).

A typical plain bagel from a deli or bakery can measure up to 6 inches in diameter and can add 350 calories to your daily calorie count. Even if you split the bagel with a friend, the calories are still higher.

Some varieties of bagels may differ in nutritional content. For example, a cheddar pesto bagel from Bruegger's provides 420 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 9 grams of sugar.

Health Benefits 

Unless they are made from whole grains, bagels are often a source of refined carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy. Refined carbohydrates can offer a quick source of energy for people, such as athletes. But the refining or milling process also removes dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In general, nutritionists recommend that you limit your intake of refined grains.

A food that is refined often says "enriched" on the label. Enriched products have had some nutrients added back in during production. However, these foods are still often lacking fiber—an important nutrient in a balanced diet.

Whole wheat and whole grain bagels can be a better choice because the grain is intact which increases the fiber, vitamin, and mineral content. It is recommended that half of our grain intake be whole. Research has shown that diets high in fiber are associated with healthier body weight, reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Keep in mind that portion still matters. A large whole wheat bagel will contain the same amount of carbohydrates as a large white bagel. The difference will be that it is higher in fiber. People with diabetes who are monitoring their carbohydrate intake should keep in mind that one bagel can often be equivalent to eating six slices of bread.

Selection and Storage

Knowing that not all bagels are created equal, be mindful of the kind you're buying as well as the portion size. Ask about their freshness to be sure you're not buying day-old (or older) bagels.

When you do buy a few bagels at a time, you can keep them fresh by storing them at room temperature in a plastic bag. You might think that refrigerating bagels will make them last longer, but the opposite is usually true.

You can freeze bagels for up to four months and them warm them up in the oven when you're ready to enjoy them.

How to Make a Healthier Bagel

If you are trying to cut back on carbs or limit your intake of refined bread products, there are a few things you can do to make a healthier bagel-based meal.

  • Bake your own bagels. Use an easy bagel recipe that includes simple nutritious ingredients. You'll be able to make them smaller to reduce the calories and carbs.
  • Make an open-face sandwich. You don't have to use both halves of the bagel to make a sandwich. Skip the upper part and simply top your bagel bottom with lean meats and veggies.
  • Scoop out your bagel. If you want to have both the top and bottom of your bagel, try scooping out the middle. Use a spoon to remove the soft middle part and build your sandwich around the bagel crust.
  • Watch for added sugar. Most sweet bagels will add to your sugar intake for the day. Check the ingredients and try to choose a bagel without corn syrup or other added sweeteners.
  • Toppings matter. A bigger bagel will require more toppings, so be mindful of what you layer on top. For a lower calorie option, skip the butter and high-calorie cream cheese. Instead, add veggies, hummus, or make a healthier bagel pizza using fresh ingredients.

A Word From Verywell

Most foods can be part of a nutritious diet as long as you eat them in moderation—including your favorite bagels. You can balance the occasional bagel with nutritious foods that provide fiber, protein, and healthy fats. When you enjoy a bagel, make sure to be mindful of portion size, look for whole-grain options, and choose healthy toppings.

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Article Sources
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