No matter how far back in history you go, people have been consuming bagels. They’re most often eaten as breakfast food but also have their place for lunch and even other meals.
Bagels can be served with almost anything from smoked fish through cheeses to meat and veggies. In the age of fitness and health, the most common type of bagel is the wheat bagel.
These are considered more nutritious than other varieties, thus better for you. But are whole wheat bagels actually healthy?
Are whole wheat bagels healthy?
Whole wheat bagels are healthier than plain bagels made with refined flour. Firstly, they’re much higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that all contribute to good health. They’re also slightly lower in calories and sugar, which means that you might be able to consume small servings when trying to lose weight.
While bagels are still primarily made of carbohydrates, switching to whole wheat bagels can help you reap some wonderful health benefits.
What are the health benefits of whole wheat bagels?
Most calories in whole wheat bagels come from carbohydrates, mostly fiber, and sugar.
Fiber has numerous benefits for your health, including soaking up excess stomach acid, preventing acid reflux, and slowing down the absorption of sugar.
In addition, a diet high in fiber can help you lose weight in a healthy way by slowing down digestion and preventing overeating.
Whole wheat bagels are also an excellent source of iron. This mineral is incredibly important, and its benefits are usually only noticed once you’re already deficient in it.
Iron helps preserve an abundance of bodily functions, including the immune system, gastrointestinal processes, and temperature regulation.
It’s also used to help build hemoglobin – the substance found in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body.
A single whole wheat bagel can provide you with as much as 2.7 mg of iron, making it a great source of this mineral.
Eating whole wheat bagels can also help you load up on calcium. A single bagel provides you with over 10% of your daily recommended need for this nutrient.
Calcium is important for building and maintaining healthy and strong bones. It also ensures that your heart, muscles, and nerves are healthy as it prevents various cardiovascular issues from developing, including arrhythmia, heart attacks, and high blood pressure.
Can eating whole wheat bagels be bad for you?
Whole wheat bagels contain quite a large number of calories, around 289 in a single medium-sized bagel.
Because of that, you might want to limit your consumption of this and other types of bagels if you’re trying to lose weight.
On the other hand, if you can’t live without bagels or bread, opting for whole wheat or whole grain options can help you reap more health benefits than consuming plain bagels made with refined flour.
Most types of bagels contain a lot of sodium – some can even have as much as 20% of your daily recommended need for this mineral.
While sodium is a very important mineral, following a diet full of sodium-rich foods has negative effects on your health.
For example, foods high in sodium have been linked to high blood pressure, which raises your risk of strokes and other cardiovascular issues. So, make sure to limit your consumption of sodium-rich foods, including bagels.
A single whole-wheat bagel contains a lot of sugar as well, even up to 10 g. Foods high in this nutrient can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.
This increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and chronic inflammation. So, to avoid this, make sure to eat your bagels with a healthy source of fat and protein, such as lettuce, spinach, kale, turkey, ham, or chicken.
These ingredients help offset the negative effects of sugar on your blood and energy levels.
How can you make whole wheat bagels healthier?
While whole wheat bagels are the healthiest types of bagels available on the market, there are still ways you can make them even healthier.
For example, try serving your bagels with some healthy fats, such as avocado, smoked salmon, or peanut butter.
While these might be higher in calories, they provide you with important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
This type of fat has been linked to a lower rate of heart disease and improved cholesterol levels.
So, as long as you keep your servings moderate, adding these ingredients can make a huge difference in the nutritional profile of your bagel.
Even though whole wheat bagels are high in fiber on their own, adding some fiber-rich veggies is also a great idea.
Vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, or even leafy greens are not only great sources of fiber but also powerful antioxidants.
These compounds help flush out free radicals from your body, preventing various chronic conditions from developing, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Whole wheat bagels alone don’t provide you with a lot of antioxidants, so make sure to supplement that with fresh veggies.
To keep your bagels as healthy as possible, try to avoid spread like cream cheese, especially the flavored varieties.
These tend to be loaded with sodium, unhealthy fats, and preservatives – all of which have negative effects on your health.
Instead, choose natural cheese like gouda or mozzarella, or peanut butter if you’re looking for something creamier.
There are some healthier, low-fat brands available on the market, though, so you can do your research and switch to these as well.
Whole wheat bagels are much healthier than bagels made using white refined flour. They contain more nutrients and micronutrients, including fiber, iron, and calcium, all of which help you stay healthy.
In addition, whole wheat bagels might be a better choice for people trying to lose weight due to their high fiber content.
So as long as you keep them healthy, you can include bagels on a balanced diet without any worries.
Alicia is the senior content editor and writer here at Food FAQ. She has extensive experience with acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, and various supplements. When not eating food for “research”, she’s watching “Friends” for the 100th time.