The Healthiest And Unhealthiest Store-Bought Bagels

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

They're round, chewy, and have holes in the middle: no, the topic here is not donuts. This is all about bagels, specifically store-bought versions. Unlike most bakery and restaurant bagels, the ones sold inside stores and online have labels with ingredients and nutrition facts. As you can probably guess, some are healthier than others.

According to WebMD, one plain medium bagel averages 100 grams, with 55 grams of carbs. It also has 7 grams of sugar, 376 grams of sodium, 1 gram of fat, and 2 grams of dietary fiber. A high carb count can seem intimidating, but the Atlas Biomed Blog explains that carbohydrates are essential for providing the body with energy. They consist mostly of sugar but naturally occurring complex carbs take longer to digest. It's better to avoid consuming excessive amounts of processed foods that have added, simple sugars to reduce the chances of serious health issues like diabetes.

What about salt, though? The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health posts that excessive salt and sodium consumption can cause heart disease and other health problems. It claims that most Americans take in approximately 3,400 mg of sodium daily – that's twice the suggested amount.

Since bakery bagels might not have available nutrition information, Healthline recommends controlling portion sizes and choosing ones made from whole grains instead of refined wheat flour. Store-bought bagel labels specify serving sizes, carbs, sodium, sugar, and more, so you can make informed decisions. How do these bagels stack up against one another, health-wise?

Utopia Everything Bagels

Everything bagels are one of the best-loved bagel flavors out there, and Carlo Mantuano of Infatuation describes Utopia's version as being slightly chewy, with the right amount of seasoning. There's no denying that these bagels are popular, and they are also pretty substantial. One Utopia Bagel has 79 carbs per 136-gram serving – both are well above the average medium bagel. Each also has 430 mg of sodium, plus 11 grams of added sugar. MyFitnessPal breaks down the nutrition content of the different varieties, and the cinnamon raisin has the highest carbs at 91 carbs per serving, followed by garlic at 85 carbs.

But Utopia Bagels, made from a mix of whole grain and other flour, have no more than 3 grams of fat per serving and some have as much as 12 grams of protein. The importance of protein in one's diet cannot be understated; Medline Plus reports that it is the main building block for cells in the human body. Utopia Bagels are hand-rolled, boiled, and baked in Whitestone, NY, and shipped to locations around the country. You can also order them from sites like FreshDirect. Utopia's mixed bagels (sold frozen, five in a bag) cost $7.99. But considering the high carb count and all that salt and sugar, these bagels are not the healthiest choice out there.

Lender's Original 100% Whole Wheat Bagels

The Lender's Bagel brand sells refrigerated and frozen bagels, with a total of 11 varieties. All are considerably smaller than what you'll usually see in your local bagel spot. For example, each 57-gram Lender's Original 100% Whole Wheat Bagel has 27 carbs, 270 mg of sodium, and 4 grams of sugar. But if you read the ingredients, high fructose corn syrup is the third one on the list. The National Library of Medicine explains that this sweetener is cheap and easy to produce, and that is why it is found in so many food products. Eating too much of it can lead to serious health problems, like hypertension and problems related to cognitive function. It has also been linked to issues with appetite control and diabetes.

You'll also see caramel coloring further down on that ingredients list, but Healthline claims that these dyes are generally harmless. This source recommends avoiding food dyes, which are also found in processed foods. Lender's Bagels also contain distilled monoglycerides. This ingredient might read as something unnatural, but Future Market Insights posts that monoglycerides are emulsifiers (that bind together water and oil) sourced from plant and animal fats. Distilled monoglycerides are extracted from soy and other oils so they are technically fats but these bagels only have 1 gram of fat per serving.

Sara Lee Deluxe Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Some people prefer to have their bagels with a bit of sweetness in the form of raisins and cinnamon, and store-bought brands often have their own versions. Sara Lee sells two kinds of cinnamon raisin bagels, the 95-gram serving size Deluxe and the smaller, 62-gram toaster-size one. EWG (Environmental Working Group) Food Scores gives the Deluxe a 5 out of 10 score on its healthy scale that analyzes food product nutrition and ingredients.

Looking at the Deluxe Cinnamon Raisin Bagel nutrition label, you'll see that there are 53 carbs, 11 grams of sugar (7 are added), and 370 mg of sodium. Not all the news is bad though, as these bagels have 8 grams of protein. According to Mayo Clinic, the body also needs protein for muscle health – this site recommends 82 to 136 grams per day on average. Other sources of protein include eggs, beans, and poultry.

How do Sara Lee's toaster-size cinnamon raisin bagels compare to their larger counterparts? These have 34 carbs, 7 grams of sugar (4 are added), and 230 mg of sodium per serving. The amount of protein is understandably less at 5 grams. These bagels are about two-thirds the size of the Deluxe ones, so these smaller numbers all make sense.

Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Larger than Sara Lee's Deluxe, the Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Bagels are 99 grams apiece and can be more filling than smaller ones. But guess what: The sugar content is higher at 14 grams per serving and half of that is added in. You'll also see 57 grams of carbs per serving and just 3 grams of fiber. Some unwelcome ingredients are on the package's label, like glycerides and xanthan gum. Biology Online explains that glycerides store fat; Healthline claims that xanthan gum is a food additive that could possibly cause digestive and respiratory problems – it is also found in wallpaper glue.

Fooducate awards Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Bagels a C+ for health, and details its reasons for this grade. Besides the high carb count, these bagels have 3.5 teaspoons of sugar in every serving (two of those are added) and industrial caramel coloring. There is also calcium propionate, a preservative that is generally considered to be safe. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, calcium propionate is used in baked goods to prevent mold, so you might see it popping up on store-bought bagel labels.

Thomas' Plain Bagels

Reviewers on Abillion have positive things to say about Thomas' Everything Bagel, posting that it is a classic bagel with a nice taste and texture; they also claim that it is vegan (World of Vegan agrees that most of the brand's bagels do not use animal products). But even though Thomas' has vegan bagels, how healthy are they? Nutritionix shows that one Thomas' Plain Bagel is 95 grams, with 53 carbs, 6 grams of sugar, and 450 mg of sodium. That salt content is higher than Utopia's, which is about 430. Each of these bagels also contains 1.5 grams of fat – as WebMD shows, the average bagel has little fat and these plain ones fall in line.

How does Thomas' Plain stand up to its Everything, though? FreshDirect sells these for $5.49 a dozen and shares the nutrition label for all to see. They weigh the same as the plain and have the same amount of carbs and sugar. But if you look at the nutrition label for the Thomas' Everything Bagel, it has less sodium than the plain, at 410 grams. Both have 9 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. The Everything's ingredients include enriched flour, vitamins like B1 and B2, monoglycerides, and diglycerides.

Just Bagels

You can order Bronx-made Just Bagels from; it's about $36 for 30 pre-sliced, assorted ones. The website claims that the bagels are healthy, but what do the labels show? Like other brands, it varies. Just Bagels' Cheddar Jalapeño weighs in at 113 grams and has 57 carbs, 6 grams of sugar, and 140 mg of sodium. Moving onto its pumpernickel, this dark brown bagel has 62 carbs, the same amount of sugar, and slightly more sodium.

The Just Bagels website claims that its bagels are fresh and healthy. Along with the cheddar jalapeño and pumpernickel, there are other varieties like everything, cinnamon raisin, Energy Multigrain, and chocolate chip. The cinnamon raisin comes with 63 carbs, 11 grams of sugar (6 are added), 590 mg of sodium, and 9 grams of protein. Not surprisingly, there's just 1 gram of fat per serving. It has more carbs than the Pepperidge Farm Deluxe, but less sugar. Here's the good news: A statement on the ingredients page claims that these bagels do not contain undesirable artificial ingredients or trans fats.

What about Just Bagels' Energy Multigrain bagel? As expected, it is higher in protein, with 11 grams per 113-gram serving. This bagel also has 59 carbs, 9 grams of sugar, and 600 mg of sodium; it may be best to cut the serving size in half. But there are 4 grams of fiber, and it includes healthy ingredients like rolled oats, cracked wheat, raisins, sunflower kernels, and wheat bran.

Udi's® Whole Grain Bagels

People on gluten-free diets might have medical conditions like celiac disease or simply choose to avoid wheat and other grains. Verywell Fit explains that while it can be challenging to find gluten-free bagels that taste just like traditional ones, brands like Udi's make them. Instead of wheat flour, Udi's incorporates brown rice and tapioca into its bagels. You can find the plain ones on Instacart, priced at about $6 for five. These don't have dairy or soy. Each 79-gram Udi's plain bagel has 37 carbs, 4 grams of sugar, and 410 mg of sodium. The fat content is higher than some of the other store-bought bagels at 7 grams, and there are 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. When you scroll through the ingredients list, you'll see pea protein, xanthan gum, and cultured corn syrup solids – solid and liquid corn syrup are both added sugars.

Udi's Whole Grain Bagels rate higher on taste than the plain bagels (an average of 4.3 stars compared to 3 stars), and they have 1 more gram of fat. The carbs, sugar, sodium, and fiber are the same, but there are 5 grams of protein. There are some other ingredients in these, like flaxseed meal, dry molasses, and teff flour. If you've never heard of that last ingredient, you are not alone. Medical News Today explains that teff flour is often used as a wheat flour substitute, and is harvested from a naturally gluten-free African plant.

Bubba's Whole Wheat Bagels

These bagels received a decent grade on Fooducate: a B+. The main reasons are that these bagels mostly contain whole grains and just 42 net carbs (46 in total). What is the difference between carbs and net carbs, though? According to Prospect Medical, the net carbs are what your body burns for energy. Bubba's does add 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving in these bagels (6 grams total) and 450 mg of sodium, but there are also 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

Bubba's Bagels are made by Papa Pita, which makes bread and other baked goods. The site claims that its food products are all-natural, vegan, organic, and non-GMO. This brand sells regular-sized bagels, mini-bagels, and skinny bagels. The regular 100% whole wheat comes in at 85 grams, with 46 carbs, 6 grams of sugar, and 450 mg of sodium. Each one contains 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. These are not 100% whole wheat, though – the ingredients include enriched unbleached flour. Still, there is no added coloring and there are healthy things like niacin, wheat bran, and non-GMO oils inside.

Bubba's Skinny 100% Whole Wheat Bagels

Purists might not even consider shmearing cream cheese on slim bagels like these, since they aren't all that different in appearance from sandwich thins. Still, the word bagel appears on the packaging so they might be worth a try. Unlike Bubba's Whole Wheat Bagels, these skinny bagels are 100% whole wheat. Each 46-gram serving has just 20 carbs, 1 gram of added sugar, and 250 mg of sodium. The label also shows 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.

Whole grains are known to be healthier than other grains – they have more nutrients, and can have a more satisfying, filling taste. They are also associated with health benefits like reduced risks for cancers and heart diseases. Thomas' Plain Bagel Thins are also 46 grams per serving and also have ingredients like plant-derived sodium stearoyl lactylate and cellulose gum. These slim bagels might be lighter than traditional ones, but whether or not you are getting a true bagel experience is questionable.

Great Low Carb Bread Company

This company's line of low-carb bagels can be ordered online, but you'll have to shell out a few dollars more ($7.99 for six) to get them. The company website shows that its Everything Bagels will be fine in the freezer for up to a year, with just 2 net grams of carbs per serving (16 grams of carbs total per serving). Each 57-gram bagel also has 14 grams of fiber, 12 grams of protein, just 1 gram of fat, and 100 mg of sodium, which is pretty impressive. The ingredients list is short, and that is a good thing – the first ingredient is water, though. That is followed by oat fiber and vital wheat gluten, plus other natural ingredients like poppy seeds and diced garlic.

All of Great Low Carb Bread Company's bagels have 2 net grams of carbs per serving. And if you look at its cinnamon raisin, it contains no sugar because it is sweetened with Stevia. That variety also has 5.5 grams of fat and 275 mg of sodium. Compare this to Sara Lee's 62-gram sized toaster-size cinnamon raisin bagels that have 7 grams of sugar and 230 mg of sodium – more of this, and less of that. If you're looking to avoid carbs, Great Low Carb Bread Company is the best choice.

Dave's Killer Bread Epic Everything Bagels

People turn to Dave's Killer Bread brand because it is made with organic ingredients and whole grains – the logo is pretty cool, too. The company's Epic Everything Bagels are loaded up with different toppings and have 44 carbs, 350 mg of sodium, and just 4 grams of sugar in each 95-gram bagel.

One Epic Everything Bagel also has 5 grams of fiber, which is more than you might see in other bagels. And according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 25 to 35 grams daily is the recommended amount for adults and children. You can increase your daily fiber intake by eating more nuts, and the flax seeds and sunflower seeds in this bread are considered to have similar nutritional value. The ingredients list is heavy on organic ingredients, which is a big selling point for many consumers. The National Library of Medicine posts that organic foods are mainly produced without pesticides and antibiotics.

When it comes to choosing the healthiest and unhealthiest bagels, it all depends on the individual – people prioritize things like less sugar, less salt, and avoiding processed ingredients. Dave's Killer Everything Bagels is one of the healthiest choices here, as it uses organic ingredients and has lower carbs, sugar, and sodium.