When I was growing up, one of the things I looked forward to the most about the weekend was going to pick up bagels with my dad and my siblings. As soon as we stepped inside the bakery, I began to smell the yeasty goodness and rushed to the pastries lined up behind the glass. My favorite bagels changed with the seasons: blueberry in the summer, cinnamon raisin in the fall, everything in the spring, and chocolate chip in the winter. But since I always viewed these Saturday breakfasts as treats, I never appreciated the real health benefits of bagels, which are almost as numerous as the poppy seeds on a chewy poppy seed bagel.
Personally, when I think of a healthy breakfast, a big bowl of oatmeal instantly comes to mind. But it turns out that one of the things that makes oatmeal so great for your body is also one of the things that makes bagels a perfect way to start your day. In a word: fiber. A new systematic review of 185 observational studies and 58 clinical trials investigating the health benefits of fiber-rich foods concluded that eating plenty of fiber can nourish and protect your body in a variety of ways. The review, published in the medical journal The Lancet, found that eating at least 25 grams of dietary fiber per day could reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure, and it might even help protect against some types of cancer.
In addition to the wonders of fiber, the carb-y nature of bagels is everything (yes, that was, indeed, a pun) when it comes to giving you energy for the day, which is one of the reasons why it can be such a great breakfast food, especially before a gym session. "Bagels are a good source of carbs for a breakfast before an intense morning workout," registered dietitian and nutritionist, Alisa Dusan, tells Elite Daily, as they'll give your body plenty of fuel.
But if you're looking for nutrition and not necessarily just a super tasty baked good, the key is really to opt for a bagel made with whole grains. "Bagels can be very healthy depending on the type. It is always best to choose whole grain bagels, as they contain all three parts of the wheat kernel: the germ, endosperm, and bran," says registered dietitian Katey Davidson, MScFN. "This provides you with important B vitamins, healthy fats, and fiber."
As tasty as it is, a big hunk of bread all by itself probably won't keep you full until lunch, though, which makes a bagel the perfect carrier for lots of delicious toppings. "Adding protein and little fat to anything that is rich in carbohydrates like bagels will help keep you full longer, keep your blood glucose levels more even, and make it a more satisfying meal," explains Dusan. Of course, cream cheese is the classic choice (as evidenced in the controversy over the first edition of the Apple bagel emoji). But the room for possibility is almost endless, so don't be afraid to get a little wild with your toppings.
For example, pile the bread high with the classic cream cheese and lox combo, or spread on a thick layer of peanut butter sprinkled with cinnamon. If you're hungry for an even more satiating meal, create the on-the-go sandwich of your dreams by adding bacon, cheese, and a fried egg. I personally once made a granny smith apple, brie, and arugula bagel, and I highly recommend you give it a try.
Whichever concoction you whip up, enjoy, because carbs are bae, gal. (Get it??)