Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Are Everything Bagels Bad For You?



Short answer

Everything bagels can be part of a balanced diet but should be enjoyed in moderation due to their high calorie, carbohydrate, and sodium content. They're not a good source of fiber, vitamins, or minerals and can contain added sugars and preservatives, especially if commercially produced. Pairing with healthy toppings and watching portion size can mitigate some health concerns.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Nutritional Content of Everything Bagels

Everything bagels are a popular choice for many seeking a savory breakfast or a fulfilling snack. Before delving into whether they are bad for you, it's important to understand their nutritional content. An average everything bagel can provide a range of nutrients, but it's also dense in calories and carbohydrates. Here's a breakdown of what you can expect from a typical everything bagel:

  • Calories: Ranging from 250 to 330 per bagel, depending on the size and ingredients used.
  • Carbohydrates: A standard everything bagel contains between 50 to 60 grams of carbohydrates, a significant portion of the daily carbs intake for an average adult.
  • Fiber: While bagels are made from wheat, they are often not a good source of fiber. Everything bagels typically contain about 2 to 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
  • Protein: Each bagel might pack about 10 grams of protein, thanks to the gluten in wheat and the addition of seeds in the topping.
  • Fats: The fat content is relatively low, approximately 1.5 to 5 grams, with a part of these being from the seed toppings such as sesame and poppy seeds.
  • Sodium: An often overlooked component, everything bagels can be high in sodium, with amounts ranging from 400 to 700 milligrams per bagel, making it a consideration for those monitoring their salt intake.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Bagels are not particularly high in vitamins and minerals but may offer some iron, calcium, and B vitamins, depending on the fortification of the flour used.

It's noteworthy that not all everything bagels are created equal. Nutritional content can vary significantly based on the maker, size, and specific recipe. For instance, a commercially produced bagel might have more preservatives and added sugars compared to a freshly baked bagel from a local bakery. Moreover, the type of flour used (white, whole wheat, or gluten-free) and the toppings (such as various seeds, onion flakes, garlic bits, and salt) will also influence the overall nutritional profile.

When considering everything bagels in terms of healthfulness, the context of your overall diet plays a critical role. For someone who has a highly active lifestyle and a well-balanced diet, an occasional everything bagel might not pose a concern. However, for those who are watching their carb intake due to health conditions like diabetes or are on a calorie-restricted diet, it may be wiser to consume everything bagels in moderation.

The combination of a high-carb content with a relatively low fiber count can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, which may not be ideal for people with insulin sensitivities. If we look at dietary recommendations, such as those from the American Heart Association, a high sodium content can also be a red flag for individuals with hypertension or heart disease. Those with high cholesterol or at risk of cardiovascular disease should consider the potentially increased sodium and refined flour content.

To sum it up, while everything bagels can be a delicious and satisfying option, their place in your diet should be evaluated with consideration of their nutritional content, your overall dietary patterns, and any specific health concerns you may have.

High Sodium Levels in Seasoning Mix: Causes for Concern

When contemplating the overall health impact of an everything bagel, it's important not to overlook the seasoning mix that gives it its distinctive flavor. A key component of this mix is salt, which, while essential for health in moderate amounts, can become a cause for concern when consumed in excess. The impact of high sodium levels on the body can vary, but common health issues associated with it include increased blood pressure and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

A typical everything bagel seasoning mix comprises poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt. While these ingredients individually have their own health benefits and drawbacks, the combination can lead to a higher than recommended sodium intake, especially when consumed as part of a regular diet.

According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of sodium an average adult should consume daily is 2,300 milligrams, with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams for most adults, especially those with hypertension. Just one everything bagel can contain a significant portion of this daily limit, potentially pushing consumers closer to these upper thresholds.

Some of the health concerns related to high sodium intake from foods like everything bagels include:

  • Increased Blood Pressure: Sodium can cause water retention, leading to higher blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • Heart Health Risks: High salt intake is linked with an increased risk of developing heart conditions such as heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy.
  • Renal Function Impairment: Excessive salt intake can lead to kidney stones and other kidney-related complications due to the strain on the kidneys.
  • Bone Density Reduction: High sodium levels may lead to calcium loss, negatively affecting bone density and increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Studies have highlighted these risks, showing a direct correlation between high sodium intake and adverse health outcomes. For instance, a meta-analysis in the BMJ (2013) concluded that high salt consumption is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, research published by the National Institutes of Health reiterates the impact of salt on blood pressure and the importance of dietary sodium restriction, especially for individuals with salt sensitivity.

It's clear that monitoring sodium intake is crucial for maintaining optimal health, and being aware of high sodium levels in everything bagels is part of this vigilant approach to diet. When choosing to indulge in an everything bagel, consider the overall context of your daily sodium consumption and how it fits into a balanced, health-conscious eating plan.

Refined Flour and Glycemic Index of Bagels

Everything bagels, like all bagels, are traditionally made with refined wheat flour. Refined flour is wheat that has undergone processing to remove the bran and germ, leaving mostly the endosperm. This process not only strips away valuable nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but it also impacts the way our bodies digest and metabolize the resulting carbohydrates.

When it comes to the Glycemic Index (GI), which measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels, products made with refined flour tend to have a higher GI. This means that they are digested and absorbed more rapidly, leading to quicker spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels. For a bagel, the average GI can range from 68 to 72, a moderately high score that can be a point of concern, particularly for individuals managing blood sugar-related conditions like diabetes.

Consuming foods with a high glycemic index is associated with several negative health outcomes, including increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Here's a breakdown of why the GI of bagels made with refined flour could be problematic:

  • Rapid Blood Sugar Spikes: Swift increases in blood sugar can lead to energy crashes and can stimulate hunger shortly after eating, potentially leading to overeating.
  • Insulin Resistance: Frequent spikes in insulin can over time lead to cells becoming less responsive to this hormone, a key player in diabetes.
  • Impact on Satiety: Refined flour lacks the fiber that aids in slow digestion and prolonged satiety, often leaving one feeling hungry sooner.
  • Reduced Nutrient Density: The nutrient composition of refined flour is inferior to whole grain options, providing fewer nutritional benefits per calorie consumed.

Despite these concerns, the actual impact on one's health can vary widely depending on the overall diet and lifestyle. For those looking for a healthier alternative, bagels made with whole grains are available. Whole grain bagels have a lower glycemic index, are richer in nutrients, and provide more fiber which can mitigate some of the negative effects associated with high-GI foods. Studies have shown that higher dietary fiber intake is linked to lower risks of cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

When evaluating bagels and their refined flour content, it's important to consider portion size and frequency of consumption. Occasional indulgence in an everything bagel may not significantly impact health; however, regular intake of high-GI products made with refined flour could contribute to long-term health complications. Moderation is key, as is pairing high-GI foods with those that have a lower GI to balance the meal's overall impact on blood sugar levels.

For those with specific dietary needs or health concerns, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who can provide personalized dietary guidance tailored to one's individual health goals.

Caloric Impact and Weight Management

When evaluating the role of everything bagels in weight management, it's crucial to dissect their nutritional content, specifically their caloric impact. Typically, a standard everything bagel weighs in at about 3 ounces (85 grams) and can contain approximately 250 to 300 calories. However, the caloric content can vary widely depending on size, ingredients, and toppings.

Integral to weight control is the balance between caloric intake and energy expenditure. Consuming more calories than the body burns can lead to weight gain, while creating a caloric deficit can contribute to weight loss. For individuals monitoring their weight or aiming to shed pounds, understanding the calorie density of everything bagels is essential.

  • Plain Everything Bagels: Without additional toppings, an everything bagel primarily provides calories from carbohydrates, with a moderate contribution from protein and minimal fat.
  • Bagels with Toppings: Toppings such as cream cheese, butter, or avocado can significantly increase the calorie count. For example, two tablespoons of cream cheese add roughly 100 more calories, tipping the scales on the caloric impact.

Beyond the calories, the macronutrient composition of everything bagels also influences weight management. Carbohydrates are the body's primary energy source, but simple carbs, often found in bagels made with refined flour, can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. These fluctuations can affect hunger and fullness cues, potentially leading to increased calorie consumption over time, which can challenge effective weight management.

One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher intake of refined grains, which includes products like bagels, was associated with a greater risk of weight gain in middle-aged women. Conversely, choosing bagels made with whole grains may contribute to better satiety and weight control, thanks to their higher fiber content.

For individuals conscious about their weight, here are some strategies for including everything bagels in a balanced diet:

  • Opt for mini bagels or 'thin' versions which offer the same flavor but with fewer calories.
  • Choose whole grain options to increase dietary fiber, enhancing fullness and digestion.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes, considering half a bagel as a serving to cut down on calorie intake.
  • Select healthier toppings like a light smear of cream cheese, fresh vegetables, or a protein-rich accompaniment like a slice of turkey or smoked salmon.

Conclusively, while everything bagels can align with a weight management plan, they should be consumed in moderation, with careful consideration of toppings, and preferably as part of a diet grounded in a diversity of nutrient-rich foods.

Hidden Additives in Processed Bagels

Bagels, especially commercially produced everything bagels, can contain a variety of additives that may raise nutritional and health concerns. While bagels themselves are a traditional food, consisting mainly of flour, water, yeast, and salt, the mass-produced versions often include hidden additives to extend shelf life, enhance flavor, and improve texture. Below is an insight into some of these additives and their potential impacts on your health.

1. Mono- and Diglycerides: These emulsifiers are often added to processed foods to maintain texture and extend shelf life. While generally recognized as safe by the FDA, they can originate from both plant sources and animal fats, making them a concern for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, as well as for their possible trans-fat content.

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch and, while it extends the product’s sweetness level, it has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome when consumed in high quantities. Some research suggests that HFCS can contribute to increased appetite and weight gain more so than regular sugar.

3. Azodicarbonamide (ADA): ADA is a chemical compound used as a flour bleaching agent and dough conditioner. While banned in Europe and Australia, it is still permitted in the U.S. food industry. There are concerns about its potential carcinogenic by-products when baked at high temperatures.

4. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT): Both are chemical antioxidants used to prevent oils in foods from oxidizing and becoming rancid. The U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Toxicology Program has classified BHA as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," although it is still commonly used in the food industry.

5. L-cysteine: This amino acid is used as a dough conditioner to speed up industrial processing. It is important to note that some sources of L-cysteine may be derived from human hair or poultry feathers, which may be off-putting and concerning for ethical and dietary reasons.

6. Artificial Preservatives: Various preservatives such as calcium propionate are added to stave off mold growth, extending shelf life. While effective for preservation, some people may be sensitive to these additives, experiencing symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, sleep disturbances, or headaches.

It's crucial to read ingredient labels carefully if you're concerned about avoiding these additives. As a consumer, you have the power to choose products that align with your dietary preferences and health considerations. Opt for bagels made with whole, recognizable ingredients, or even better, consider sourcing from local bakeries that you trust, or making them at home from scratch to have full control over what goes into your food.

While the occasional bagel with these additives is unlikely to harm a healthy individual, regular consumption can be a nutritional concern. It is especially important to consider the cumulative effect of these additives considering they are commonly found not just in bagels but in a wide variety of processed foods.

It is these types of considerations—looking beyond the basic nutritional profile of a food item—to unveil the broader implications for long-term health and wellness. As with many other processed foods, what may seem on the surface like a harmless bakery item can, upon closer scrutiny, reveal a complex list of ingredients each with its own potential for impact on your dietary goals and health outcomes.

Balanced Consumption: Incorporating Bagels into a Healthy Diet

While everything bagels offer a satisfying blend of flavors, they should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. This hinges on understanding the nutritional content of everything bagels and how they fit into the bigger picture of dietary wellness. Here are some ways to enjoy everything bagels without compromising your health goals:

  • Portion Control: Bagels have significantly increased in size, and subsequently in calorie content, over the years. Opt for mini bagels or consider eating only half a bagel at a time to keep portion sizes in check.
  • Whole Grain Options: Seek out whole grain or whole wheat versions of everything bagels. These contain more fiber and nutrients compared to their refined counterparts, promoting better digestion and satiety.
  • Healthy Toppings: Choose toppings wisely to boost the nutrition profile of your bagel. Suggested toppings include:
    • Light cream cheese or a cream cheese alternative
    • Natural nut butters which are great sources of protein and healthy fats
    • Avocado, which adds monounsaturated fats and a rich, creamy texture
    • Sliced tomatoes or cucumbers for added vitamins and hydration
    • Smoked salmon, which contributes omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein
  • Balanced Pairing: Pair your everything bagel with whole foods such as fruits and vegetables to diversify your intake of vitamins and minerals. Adding a side of Greek yogurt can also enhance your meal with probiotics and additional protein.
  • Consider Additional Nutrients: If an everything bagel is your choice for a meal, think about what other nutrients you can include throughout the day to maintain a balanced diet. This might be lean proteins, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  • Exercise Balance: If you indulge in a bagel for breakfast or lunch, balance your other meals with lighter options like salads, soups, or grilled proteins with steamed vegetables.
  • Watch for Sodium: Everything bagels can be high in sodium due to their seasoning. Those who are monitoring their sodium intake for blood pressure management or other health reasons should be aware of this and adjust their daily consumption accordingly.

By considering the full context of your eating habits and making conscious choices, incorporating everything bagels into your diet doesn't have to be a dietary misstep. It's about moderation, making wise topping choices, and ensuring the rest of your diet is rich in nutrients. It's also worth noting that individual dietary needs can vary greatly, and what constitutes a 'healthy diet' can look different from one person to another. Consulting with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can personalize how an everything bagel can fit into your diet without negatively impacting your health.


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database
  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • American Heart Association recommendations on sodium intake

Healthful Toppings and Spreads for Everything Bagels

While the bagel itself can be a satisfying base, the health impact of an Everything Bagel greatly depends on the toppings and spreads you choose. Picking nutrient-dense and wholesome additions can transform your bagel from a calorie-dense treat into a nourishing meal or snack. Here, we explore various healthful options for topping your Everything Bagel:

  • Avocado: An excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins, mashed avocado can be a heart-healthy alternative to cream cheese.
  • Hummus: This spread, made from chickpeas, provides plant-based protein, fiber, and essential nutrients – a perfect pairing for adding a Mediterranean twist.
  • Cottage Cheese: Lower in fat and calories than cream cheese, cottage cheese is rich in protein and calcium. Opt for the low-fat or fat-free variety for an even healthier option.
  • Nut Butter: Almond, cashew, or peanut butter can provide healthy fats, protein, and a satisfying creamy texture. Be sure to choose versions without added sugars or oils.
  • Smoked Salmon: A traditional topping that's low in saturated fat and packed with omega-3 fatty acids, smoked salmon can add a flavorful punch of protein.
  • Veggies: Thinly sliced vegetables like cucumber, tomato, red onion, spinach, or bell peppers offer crunch, flavor, and a host of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Eggs: Whether you're into scrambled, poached, or hard-boiled, eggs can be a great topping providing high-quality protein and various essential nutrients.
  • Greek Yogurt: For those who enjoy creamy spreads, Greek yogurt can be a probiotic-rich and lower-calorie alternative to cream cheese, while offering a good dose of protein.
  • Homemade Pesto: Made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil, pesto is full of flavor and healthy fats, minus the preservatives found in many store-bought spreads.
  • Tofu Spread: If you're vegan or lactose intolerant, tofu spread can mimic the texture of cream cheese while giving you a plant-based protein source.

The key to maximizing the nutritional profile of your Everything Bagel with these toppings lies not only in what you choose, but how much you use. Moderation is critical, as even healthful toppings can become less beneficial in excessive quantities.

When preparing your bagel, aim for a balance between macronutrients—carbohydrates from the bagel itself, proteins from sources like eggs or salmon, and healthy fats from spreads like avocado or nut butter. This combo will help keep you satisfied and provide sustained energy levels.

Remember, while these suggestions are healthier alternatives, individual dietary needs can vary. Always consult with a nutritionist or dietitian if you have specific health concerns or dietary restrictions.

Frequently asked questions

In the past, it was commonly advised that individuals with diverticulitis avoid seeds, as they were thought to become trapped in the diverticula and cause inflammation. However, recent research suggests that seeds may not pose such a risk. Still, it's best for anyone with diverticulitis to consult with their healthcare provider for personalized dietary advice.

Everything bagels are traditionally made with wheat flour, which contains gluten. However, many bakeries and stores now offer gluten-free versions made with alternative flours such as rice, almond, or oat flour. If you're following a gluten-free diet, look for specifically labeled gluten-free everything bagels to enjoy safely.

To mitigate the high glycemic index of an everything bagel, consider pairing it with foods that have a lower GI and are high in fiber, protein, or healthy fats. Adding toppings like avocado, eggs, or nut butter can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and help stabilize blood sugar levels.

If you're sensitive to artificial preservatives such as calcium propionate, you might experience symptoms like headaches, stomach upset, irritability, and sleep disturbances. If you notice these symptoms after consuming products with these additives, it might be worth discussing with a healthcare professional and choosing preservative-free options.

Ask a question about Everything Bagels and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • rapid blood sugar spikes
  • increased appetite
  • water retention
  • elevated blood pressure
  • potential allergic reactions

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • heart conditions
  • renal function impairment
  • bone density reduction
  • insulin resistance

Ingredients to be aware of


  • source of protein
  • vitamins and minerals from seeds and fortified flour
  • satisfying flavor profile

Healthier alternatives

  • whole grain bagels
  • light cream cheese
  • natural nut butters
  • avocado
  • fresh vegetables
  • smoked salmon
  • portion control (half or mini bagels)

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Dave's Killer Organic Bagels

  • Rich in seeds & grains
  • USDA Organic certified
  • Non-GMO
  • High in fiber
  • Protein-packed
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-20-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-20-2024

Random Page

Check These Out!