Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Are Bagel Chips Bad For You?



Short answer

Bagel chips provide a crunchy snack often high in carbohydrates, moderate in fat, and low in protein. A typical serving contains around 130-150 calories, 18-22g of carbs, and 150-300mg of sodium. They are usually made from refined flour and may contain added fats and sodium through baking or frying. They should be consumed in moderation with consideration for their low fiber, potential high sodium, and refined carb content impacting glycemic index and blood sugar levels.



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Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Bagel Chips

The nutritional content of bagel chips can vary depending on the brand, the ingredients used, and any additional flavorings or toppings. To provide a clearer picture of what you might expect when consuming bagel chips, let's examine their typical nutritional characteristics.

Bagel chips are often made from wheat flour, yeast, oil, salt, and sometimes various seeds and seasonings to enhance their flavor. They are sliced from bagels, then baked or fried to achieve a crispy texture. This process often results in a snack with a high carbohydrate content, moderate fat, and a relatively low amount of protein.

Here’s a general breakdown of the estimated nutritional content for a standard serving size of plain bagel chips (about 28 grams or 10 chips):

  • Calories: 130-150
  • Carbohydrates: 18-22 grams
  • Sugars: 1-3 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 1-2 grams
  • Proteins: 2-4 grams
  • Total Fat: 4-6 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5-1 grams
  • Sodium: 150-300 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg (most brands do not contain cholesterol)

Although bagel chips may not appear significantly different in terms of basic macronutrients compared to the original bagels, the preparation process can alter their dietary content. For example, bagel chips often contain more fat than a regular bagel due to the oils used in the baking or frying process.

Moreover, many commercial bagel chips are high in sodium, which can contribute to increased blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues if consumed in excess. A recent study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology highlighted the risks associated with high sodium intake and its prevalence in processed snacks.

It is also worth noting that many bagel chips lack substantial amounts of dietary fiber and essential nutrients, making them less satiating and nutritionally beneficial than whole-food snacks. A comparative analysis published in Nutrition Journal suggests snacks high in fiber and protein may provide better satiety and support for maintaining a healthy weight.

In terms of micronutrients, unless fortified, bagel chips typically do not provide significant amounts of vitamins or minerals. When considering the consumption of bagel chips as part of your dietary intake, it's crucial to take into account the broader context of your overall eating habits and nutritional goals.

Sodium Content and Potential Health Risks

When it comes to evaluating the dietary impact of bagel chips, one cannot overlook the sodium content which often goes hand-in-hand with these crunchy snacks. A typical serving of bagel chips can vary significantly in sodium content depending on the brand and flavor. It's not uncommon to find that a single serving, which may range from 7 to 10 chips, contains between 150 to 300 milligrams of sodium.

Now, why does this matter? Sodium is an essential nutrient in our diet, playing a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance, supporting nerve function, and regulating blood pressure. However, the adage "too much of a good thing" rings particularly true with sodium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day for adults, which can be shockingly easy to exceed with processed and packaged foods.

The potential health risks associated with high sodium consumption are well documented. Excessive sodium intake has been linked to:

  • Hypertension: Often labeled the 'silent killer,' high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Consistently consuming too much sodium can lead to hypertension, especially in sodium-sensitive individuals.
  • Cardiovascular disease: A diet high in sodium can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Osteoporosis: High sodium intake can result in an increased loss of calcium through urine, potentially leading to weakened bones over time.
  • Kidney damage: The kidneys play a key role in managing electrolyte levels. Overloading them with sodium may impede their function and lead to kidney disease.
  • Stomach cancer: Some studies suggest prolonged high intake of dietary sodium may be associated with an increased risk of certain types of stomach cancer.

Consider the cumulative effect of sodium throughout the day. Snacking on high-sodium foods like bagel chips can contribute to a greater overall daily intake, especially when paired with other processed foods. Moreover, for individuals with certain health conditions like hypertension or kidney disease, or for those following a heart-healthy diet, monitoring and reducing sodium intake becomes even more critical.

Experts suggest alternate ways to enjoy the taste of bagel chips without overdoing sodium, such as:

  • Choosing lower-sodium versions of bagel chips if available.
  • Checking the nutrition labels and comparing different brands to select the option with the least sodium.
  • Making homemade bagel chips, where you have complete control over the amount of added salt.
  • Incorporating bagel chips into a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to mitigate the impact of sodium.

It's vital to stay informed and mindful about sodium content within foods. By being conscious of both the portion sizes and the frequency with which we indulge in savory snacks like bagel chips, we can better manage our sodium intake and reduce the potential health risks associated with it.

Refined Carbs, Glycemic Index, and Blood Sugar Levels

When discussing the health impact of bagel chips, it's essential to consider the role of refined carbohydrates. Bagel chips are typically made from white flour, which is a refined carbohydrate. During the refining process, the grain's bran and germ are removed, stripping away dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This leaves the endosperm, which is mostly composed of carbohydrates.

Refined carbs have a high glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly a food can raise blood sugar levels. High-GI foods can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar, followed by sharp drops, which might leave you feeling hungry again soon after eating. Moreover, consistent consumption of high-GI foods is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet high in high-GI foods can also impair the function of the blood vessel walls, potentially leading to cardiovascular issues.

Another aspect to consider is the glycemic load (GL), which takes into account the GI in conjunction with the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of the food. Bagel chips have a moderate to high GL, which means they can still significantly impact your blood sugar levels, especially if consumed in large portions.

It's worth mentioning that some bagel chips may contain whole grains, which offer more nutrients and have a lower GI than their refined counterparts. However, these are less common, and the majority of bagel chips on the market are made from refined grains. When consumed frequently and in large amounts, bagel chips made from refined grains could contribute to poorer blood sugar control and may have implications for long-term health.

To mitigate these effects, individuals should consider:

  • Eating bagel chips in moderation, especially if made from white flour
  • Opting for brands that use whole grains
  • Pairing bagel chips with protein or fat to balance the glycemic response
  • Choosing alternative snacks that are lower in refined carbs and higher in dietary fiber

Mindful eating and an understanding of GI and GL can help you make more informed decisions about including bagel chips in a balanced diet.

Additives and Preservatives in Commercial Bagel Chips

When evaluating the potential health impacts of bagel chips, it's essential to consider not only the main ingredients but also the additives and preservatives that are often incorporated into commercial products. These substances can significantly influence the nutritional profile and overall healthfulness of the snack.

Here's an overview of some common additives and preservatives found in bagel chips:

  • Artificial Flavors: Used to enhance flavor profiles, artificial flavors are chemically derived substances that may be of concern to some individuals looking to maintain a natural diet.
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): As a flavor enhancer, MSG has been the subject of debate for its potential to cause headaches, allergic reactions, and other symptoms in sensitive individuals, although the FDA has deemed it safe for general consumption. A study by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) found that MSG may cause adverse reactions in some people when consumed in large quantities.
  • Preservatives (like BHT or BHA): Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are common preservatives that help extend the shelf life of bagel chips. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies BHA as a possible human carcinogen, although low levels of consumption are considered safe by the FDA.
  • Trans Fats: Partially hydrogenated oils, a source of trans fats, may still be found in some bagel chips despite increasing restrictions. Trans fats are associated with increased risk of heart disease, and the American Heart Association recommends minimizing their intake as much as possible.
  • Sodium: High levels of sodium are found in many bagel chip brands, which can contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease over time. The American Heart Association suggests an ideal limit of 1,500 mg of sodium per day for most adults.
  • Artificial Colors: Although not as common in savory snacks like bagel chips, some brands may include artificial coloring agents, which have been linked to hyperactivity in children and are a point of concern for some consumers.

While the long-term health effects of many food additives and preservatives can vary from person to person, it's important for consumers to be aware of what's in their food. Reading labels carefully and choosing bagel chips with fewer and more natural ingredients can help minimize exposure to potentially harmful additives. Moreover, awareness and demand from health-conscious consumers are driving some manufacturers to reformulate their products with fewer artificial components.

When considering the role of these additives in your diet, consult with healthcare providers, especially if you have specific dietary restrictions or health concerns.

To make informed decisions, here are some expert tips:

  1. Always check the ingredient list for specifics on additives and preservatives.
  2. Opt for brands that use natural preservatives like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or tocopherols (vitamin E), which are considered to be safer options.
  3. Consider preparing homemade bagel chips, where you can control the types and amounts of ingredients used. This can be a healthier alternative free from unwanted additives.

It's evident that while additives and preservatives play a vital role in maintaining the taste, appearance, and shelf life of bagel chips, they can also raise health concerns for those who consume them regularly. Integrating a conscientious approach to choosing processed foods will pave the way for a more balanced and healthful diet.

Balancing Bagel Chips in a Healthy Diet

Enjoying bagel chips in moderation can be part of a balanced diet when approached with mindfulness and nutritional awareness. It's crucial to understand how bagel chips fit within the grand scheme of your dietary habits. Here's how to incorporate them without compromising your health goals:

  • Portion Control: Start by adhering to the serving size recommended on the package, often around 1 ounce or 28 grams. This will help you keep track of the calories and prevent mindless overeating.
  • Nutrient Pairing: Combine bagel chips with nutrient-dense foods to enhance the overall nutritional value of your snack. Pairing them with hummus, for example, adds protein and fiber, turning a simple snack into a more filling option.
  • Reduced-Fat Alternatives: Opt for bagel chips that are baked rather than fried, and those labeled as reduced-fat or low-sodium to minimize unhealthy fats and excessive salt intake.
  • Homemade Options: Making bagel chips at home allows you to control the ingredients and reduce the amount of added oil and salt. Try seasoning with herbs and spice blends for flavor without the extra sodium.
  • Balance within Meals: If you indulge in bagel chips, ensure the rest of your day’s meals are rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to maintain a balanced nutrient intake.
  • Hydration: Salty snacks can lead to increased thirst, so drinking plenty of water throughout the day is essential. Hydration can also help you feel full, potentially reducing the urge to overeat.
  • Check Ingredients: Review ingredient lists for high-quality, whole-food ingredients and avoid those with preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors, which can be unnecessary additives in your diet.
  • Dietary Allergens: Be mindful of any potential allergens in bagel chips, such as wheat, sesame seeds, or soy, and choose varieties that are safe for your dietary restrictions.

By implementing these strategies, bagel chips can be occasionally enjoyed without derailing a health-conscious diet. Remember, frequency and quantity are key elements in balancing the consumption of any snack, including bagel chips, to maintain nutritional harmony and support your wellbeing.

Comparing Bagel Chips to Other Snack Alternatives

When weighing the nutritional merits and drawbacks of bagel chips, it's essential to consider how they stack up against other popular snack options. Here we will explore the nutritional values, potential health benefits, and pitfalls of bagel chips in contrast with other common snacks. By doing so, we'll aim to understand where bagel chips fit within a balanced dietary landscape.

Nutritional Values: Bagel chips typically contain a higher calorie count and carbohydrate content compared to airy snacks like popcorn or rice cakes. They often include several grams of fat, some of which may be saturated, depending on the preparation method. Here is a brief nutritional comparison per standard serving size:

Snack Calories Total Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Carbohydrates (g) Fiber (g) Protein (g)
Bagel Chips 130-150 4-6 0.5-1 20-22 1-2 3-4
Popcorn (air-popped) 31 0.4 0 6 1.2 1
Rice Cakes (plain) 35 0.3 0 7.3 0.4 0.7
Whole Grain Crackers 120-130 3-5 0-1 20-22 2-4 2-3

Health Benefits and Pitfalls: While bagel chips offer a moderate amount of protein, they typically provide less dietary fiber compared to whole-grain alternatives. Fiber is crucial for maintaining digestive health and can contribute to satiety, meaning snacks higher in fiber may keep you feeling full for longer periods.

Another consideration is the glycemic index (GI), which affects blood sugar levels. Bagel chips have a higher GI compared to snacks like nuts or whole-grain crackers, which can lead to quicker spikes in insulin and subsequent crashes in energy. This can be particularly concerning for individuals managing blood sugar-related conditions like diabetes.

Ingredient Quality: The healthfulness of a snack also hinges on the quality of its ingredients. Bagel chips may contain added sugars, preservatives, and artificial flavors, which can detract from their overall nutritional value. In contrast, raw nuts or seeds, as snack alternatives, provide natural, single-ingredient benefits without added processing or artificial inputs.

Portion Control: Importantly, the ease of overeating bagel chips can lead to consuming excess calories and potentially harmful nutrients like sodium. Many snack alternatives, such as pre-portioned packs of trail mix or vegetable sticks paired with hummus, offer more built-in portion control.

In summary, while bagel chips can be a satisfying treat, their higher calorie density, potential for added sugars and preservatives, and lower fiber content place them at a disadvantage when compared directly with other snack choices, especially those made from whole foods with minimal processing. Therefore, individuals looking for a healthier snack may consider options with more fiber, protein, and healthy fats, which provide long-lasting energy and support a well-rounded diet.

Frequently asked questions

While the traditional preparation method of bagel chips often involves baking, some commercial varieties may also be fried to achieve a crispier texture. For a healthier option, look for bagel chips that are advertised as baked, as they tend to contain less oil and therefore may have a lower fat content.

Indeed, there are healthier seasoning options for bagel chips that can provide flavor without the added sodium. Look for varieties seasoned with dried herbs, nutritional yeast, or spice blends that do not include added salt. Making bagel chips at home also allows for complete control over the types of seasonings used, minimizing sodium content.

Bagel chips, especially those not fortified, generally do not provide significant amounts of micronutrients. They typically lack substantial vitamins and minerals unless the manufacturer has specifically added them. If micronutrient intake is a concern, it's advisable to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods alongside any snack choices.

Bagel chips generally have a lower fiber content compared to whole bagels, mainly if they are made from refined wheat flour. Whole bagels, especially those made with whole grains, can provide more dietary fiber that is beneficial for digestion and satiety. When selecting bagel chips, opt for brands that incorporate whole grains to increase fiber intake.

Ask a question about Bagel Chips and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • increased thirst
  • rapid blood sugar spike

Possible long-term side effects

  • hypertension
  • cardiovascular disease
  • osteoporosis
  • kidney damage
  • type 2 diabetes
  • obesity

Ingredients to be aware of


  • moderate protein
  • potentially fortified with vitamins

Healthier alternatives

  • whole grain crackers
  • air-popped popcorn
  • rice cakes
  • homemade bagel chips
  • raw nuts
  • vegetable sticks with hummus
  • snacks high in fiber and protein

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Spicy Za'atar Pita Chips

  • Twice baked crunch
  • Savory Lebanese flavor
  • Seasoned with Za'atar
  • Thin & crunchy texture
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-06-2023
Last updated: 12-07-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-06-2023
Last updated: 12-07-2023

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