Are Bagels Healthy?

Like anything you eat or cook, the nutritional side of the equation will always come up. Most studies and “believe it or not” articles unfairly place bagels as an unhealthy breakfast, and even go as far as to call doughnuts for breakfast more healthy. This is me, calling them out.

Bagels vary in size, ingredients, and most of all, toppings. Most articles attacking the bagel compare a small plain doughnut to a large bagel, with cream cheese, and toppings. Then they proceed to compare a tiny doughnut to a this meal. Higher fat content, higher calories, higher cholesterol,etc. Of course it will appear that the bagel is less healthy. There’s more bagel than that doughnut could ever dream of being.

Allow me to set a scene. You walk into a doughnut shop and are hungry, famished from, well not eating for 6 to 8 hours (or however long you sleep). The delicious aroma of freshly baked doughnuts is too much for you and the guy at the counter easily persuades you to get a dozen. It’s only $4 and you’ll bring them to the office to share, right? 2 regular chocolate covered circular ones, 2 chocolate covered with rainbow sprinkles, 2 large cinnamon twists, 4 maple bars, 2 raspberry filled, and you’re done, right? Wait, you get one more, it’s the baker’s dozen. You get a cream filled chocolate covered doughnut and head to the register. At the register you see that doughnut holes are 10 for $1 and easily cave, seeing as you have a fiver in your hand and don’t want to carry around any loose change (besides, that’s for government conspiracies). You quickly pound down the doughnut holes on the drive to work but you convince yourself that you’ll only have 1 regular doughnut because you know that doughnuts aren’t exactly the most healthy thing in the world. 3 or 4 hours later, the dozen doughnuts are gone and you’ve eaten 2 or 3 more than you expected.

This is not just a story I made up. It’s really happened. I’m sure it happens every day, often unsuspected until it hits them when they look at themselves in the mirror a few months down the road and realize they’ve been eating too many doughnuts, too often.

While nutritionists do have a point in advising people taking the time to sit down to a nice full healthy breakfast, choosing a box of doughnuts over a bagel for breakfast in the morning could be destructive.

Considering that a single bagel, topped with cream cheese, tomato and onion keeps me going for 5 or 6 hours (the usual time between meals), maybe it’s actually a great idea. Instead of snacking all morning (or afternoon if you eat a bagel for lunch), consider eating a bagel for breakfast.