Are Bagels Bad For You?

Bagels have been in existence since the 17th century, when a Viennese baker reportedly fashioned bread into a stirrup as a tribute to a Polish king (via Smithsonian Magazine). Can a bread that was fit for a king and that now thrives in the mainstream centuries later really be all that bad for you?

The thoughts on this range as widely as the variety of bagels available.

At first glance, the nutritional benefits of the basic bagel look a little lacking. For instance, your average plain bagel generally contains salt, water, yeast, and refined wheat flour. The refined wheat flour can include high amounts of sugar. And no matter the variety, pretty much all bagels that include these ingredients will also be high in carbohydrates and calories (via Healthline). The calories can add up to 600 per bagel, which is high when you consider your standard 2,000 calorie-per-day diet (via Food Network).

That said, if you're a runner, the high carbs and calories in a bagel can prove beneficial. A bagel can provide you with the fuel you need before your run and restore your glycogen levels if you eat a bagel afterwards (via Verywell Fit).

Can bagels ever be healthy for you?

Don't throw the bagel out with the bathwater just yet. You can still keep bagels in your diet by making some minor, but meaningful changes to your bagel-eating practices.

Registered dietician Bonnie Taub-Dix tells Women's Health that while bagels are "not exactly a health food ... they do have some perks." One thing to consider is that there are certain bagels that will be healthier than others. Taub-Dix points out that bagels with sesame seeds will have healthy fat and fiber. Whole grain bagels are also a good option. (via Philly Voice).

There are plenty of other healthy ways for you to keep bagels in your diet. First, consider eating just half the bagel — there's a good chance this modification will be enough to satisfy your craving. If you can't imagine this scenario, then scooping out the middle of both halves could be the way to go. And how about getting a little more creative about an alternative to fatty cream cheese? Maybe give plain Greek yogurt a try, or some kind of nut-butter instead? If you're feeling fancy, perhaps add an egg or salmon for a nice boost of protein (via Shape).

Make a few of these adjustments and limit your indulgence to once a week, and you'll probably find that the bagel that was formerly bad for you is now staying in your good graces.