Over the past couple of years, there has been an increasing rise in the popularity of bagels around the world.
Not just a breakfast food, bagels have made their way to lunch and dinner plates across the UK. But one of the things people want to know is whether they’re good or bad for you, and what health benefits they possess.
With that in mind, we wanted to break down more about the beloved bagel, and give you some tips on incorporating them into your diet.
In this article, you’ll find out:
Before we delve into the details, what actually are bagels? A form of dense bread that’s shaped like a doughnut, a bagel is a yeast-leavened roll with a shiny outer crust.1
Made using these primary ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and sweetening – many people opt for a bagel as a breakfast or lunch option.1
While there are many different variations of bagel, we’ve listed the most common types that you could easily pick up with your food shop.
Made using regular bread flour, white bagels, otherwise known as plain bagels, are arguably the one of the most popular types available – great for pairing with both sweet and savoury fillings.
Looking for a more fibrous option that’s equally as soft and chewy as the plain alternative?2 Wholemeal bagels might be just the addition to your lunchtime recipes.
Often made using the same ingredients as plain bagels but with sesame seeds on top, seeded bagels are a great way to add a little more protein to your diet.3
A great way to satisfy your sweet cravings and fill you up, cinnamon and raisin bagels are ideal as a snack or even a breakfast option.
Alternatively, if you prefer savoury foods, onion and chive bagels are perfect for providing that savoury tastiness you’re craving.
Bagels aren’t all bad for you, and as part of a balanced diet, they can fit in perfectly. Some varieties of bagels might even have additional ingredients that give other health benefits, such as wholegrains.
Wholegrains are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. As they’re typically unrefined, they have a lot more plant compounds that are good for our health.
Having a good variety of fibre, vitamins and minerals in your diet is actually known to help balance out your blood sugar, as well as promoting a healthy digestive system.4
To get the additional health benefits, you might want to opt for a bagel that has grains such as oats, whole wheat or rye.
If you want to have bagels as part of your diet, but ensure they stay balanced, here are some tips:
Unfortunately there’s no simple answer to this question.
In terms of calories, on average one bagel has more calories than one slice of bread.
However, if you choose to have a bagel with more fibre, this may help you feel fuller for longer and potentially reduce your snacking throughout the day.
But essentially, this all boils down to both the type of bread and bagel you choose – and the nutritional value in each. Find more details on this below.
So how many calories are in a bagel? This greatly depends on the type and the filling that you have in it. So we’ll run you through the calories in some of the most popular options below.
In one regular bagel with a tablespoon of butter there is approximately 379 calories.5,6
In one regular bagel with a tablespoon of cream cheese there is approximately 327 calories.7,8
In one regular bagel with a tablespoon of peanut butter there is approximately 372 calories.9,10
As mentioned previously, a medium-sized bagel can have anything up to 300 calories per serving – and then there’s the fillings as well.
Although on the face of it, this might seem like a normal portion, bagels are quite easy to overeat.
Once you start adding toppings, it can quickly become highly calorific.
Some larger versions of bagels can even contain an excess of 600 calories – which for most people, will be their desired calorie count for an entire meal.
The main ingredient in bagels is wheat flour – which is a refined carbohydrate. Alongside this, a lot of varieties of bagels also include a high portion of sugar, which is also a carb.
Whilst having a good balance of carbohydrates in your diet can be healthy, some research has shown that having a high intake of refined carbs can increase the risk of some chronic conditions, such as heart disease.11
While there’s only approximately 1.39g of fat in a regular sized bagel, eating bagels may lead to weight gain if you eat them without being in a calorie deficit or a calorie maintenance.12
If the bagels you’re regularly eating mean that you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning, this excess could be stored as fat in your body.13
The nutritional value of bagels can vary massively depending on the brand and variety of product.
As they’ve increased in popularity, so have the varieties available.
You can now get everything from a basic white bagel right, through to a cinnamon and sweet raisin bagel – and the size can vary too. As such, we’d always recommend checking the packaging.
However, most commonly, bagels are made from a combination of flour, salt, water and yeast.
The average medium-sized bagel (100g) should contain under 300 calories, with 56 grams of carbs – approximately 15% of the recommended calorie intake and 22% of the recommended carbohydrate intake.14,15
The majority of a bagels nutritional value is taken up by carbohydrates, which is why they can sometimes get a bad reputation. Here’s the amount of carbs in some other types of bagel:
Again, the amount of protein in a bagel depends on the type of bagel you’re eating. So we’ve listed the protein for each type below:
Overall, bagels can be a good addition to any diet. However, you need to be mindful of some of the points mentioned above if you are trying to lose weight.
Whether that’s the size of the bagel, the ingredients in it, or simply the spread you’re using – this awareness can make it easier for you to have a bagel, and enjoy it too.
Want to have a go at making your own bagels? Check out our selection of home baking ingredients.
Last updated: 1 July 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.