Are Bagels Healthy or Unhealthy?

Are Bagels Healthy or Unhealthy?

Posted on: Bread, Healthy Eating

By Dr. Jorge, Ph.D.

Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen subscription box for sourdough breads, fresh pastas, and artisanal pastries.

A toasted bagel with cream cheese is a favorite breakfast choice of many, but how healthy is this delicious combination? In this article, we’ll discuss how bagels can fit into your lifestyle and which bagel options are the healthiest.

Can bagels be healthy? Are bagels healthy to eat? Are bagels with cream cheese healthy?

Bagels can be healthy if made with whole grains, contain minimal fat and sugar, and are an appropriate portion size for your health goals. For a healthier choice, look for whole wheat, whole grain, or rye bagels. While bagels with cream cheese are delicious, traditional cream cheese is not necessarily healthy. This popular bagel topping is generally low in protein and high in fat and calories. The good news is that there are healthier cream cheese options, if cream cheese is your favorite bagel spread. You can opt for low-fat or whipped cream cheese, both of which contain less fat and calories per serving.

Are bagels healthy for weight loss or while on a diet? What’s the best bagel for weight loss?

It is possible for bagels to fit into your diet and weight loss goals. If you are looking to lose weight, it is critical to keep a calorie deficit, meaning you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning. To ensure the bagels you eat help you achieve this goal, look for bagels that are lower in calories or only eat a portion of the bagel. 

The best bagels for weight loss are those that are small or medium in size and contain whole grains. Smaller bagels are lower in calories and whole grain bagel options are higher in fiber and antioxidants. Another way to cut calories while enjoying your favorite bagel is to have half of a bagel as a serving size. 

Can a bagel be a healthy breakfast?

Bagels can be a part of a healthy breakfast if eaten with other foods that provide an overall nutritious and balanced meal. To enjoy bagels as part of a fulfilling breakfast, consider incorporating healthy fats as a bagel spread, such as avocado, hummus, or peanut butter. You can also add an egg, fruits, and vegetables for added protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Do bagels have sugar? Are there bagels without sugar?

Bagels are frequently made with sugar, since sugar helps to activate the yeast used for rising bagel dough. However, the bagels at Wildgrain contain no refined white sugar. Wildgrain’s slow-fermented bagels use barley malt syrup, a grain-based sweetener, in place of sugar. Barley malt syrup provides some benefits compared to white sugar, such as a boost of protein and potassium and a lower glycemic index.

Which bagels are the best for diabetics? Should diabetics eat bagels? Do bagels spike blood sugar?

The best bagels for diabetics are bagels that are whole grain, or whole wheat bagels that have little-to-no added sugar. Bagels made from whole grains have a lower glycemic index than refined flour varieties, and thus, are ingested slower and allow for a more gradual rise in blood sugar. Similarly, diabetics should opt for bagels made with barley malt syrup instead of sugar, like the bagels at Wildgrain, since barley malt syrup has a lower glycemic index. In contrast, traditional bagels that are made from refined wheat flour have a high glycemic index and can rapidly spike blood sugar and insulin levels after meals. By choosing healthier bagel options, diabetics can still enjoy bagels as part of a balanced diet.

What is a non-GMO bagel? Is a non-GMO bagel healthier?

​​Non-GMO foods refer to foods that haven’t undergone genetic modification. Many commercially available breads contain genetically modified ingredients including soy lecithin, soybean oil, corn oil, corn starch, or soy flour. A non-GMO bagel, such as a Wildgrain bagel, does not contain any genetically modified ingredients. According to research studies, non-GMO bagels aren’t necessarily healthier than bagels made with genetically modified ingredients. However, consuming non-GMO foods helps to keep farming soil fertile, reduce soil erosion, and support local farmers.

Is there a healthy bagel option? What type of bagel is healthiest?

The healthiest bagel is one made with whole grains. For a healthy bagel option, look for whole wheat or rye bagels. Sourdough bagels are also a healthy option, since sourdough bread varieties are more nutritious than white bread options.

Where can I buy the best bagels online?

At Wildgrain, we specialize in making high-quality, fresh baked goods that are delivered directly to your door. Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen delivery subscription service for breads, rolls, pastries, and fresh pastas. Some of our popular items include slow-fermented bagels, English muffins, and croissants. Learn more about Wildgrain and our artisanal baking and cooking methods.


About the Author

Dr. Jorge has been a public health researcher for many years, holding both a Bachelor's degree and a Ph.D. in Chemistry. They presently work as a medical writer and love being able to assist others in understanding various health and scientific topics.

This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional nutrition and/or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition and/or medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.