Multigrain bagels can be a healthy breakfast option in moderation. They provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. However, they are still fairly high in carbs and calories, so portion control is important. Choosing whole grain options and topping them with nutritious ingredients can make multigrain bagels even better for you.
What is a Multigrain Bagel?
A multigrain bagel is a bagel made with two or more different whole grains. Typical grains used include wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, and bran. The combination of grains gives multigrain bagels a nuttier, heartier texture and flavor compared to plain white flour bagels. Additionally, using whole grains provides more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals than refined grains.
The nutrition content of multigrain bagels can vary depending on the specific grains used, portion size, and any toppings added. On average, a 3.5-oz plain multigrain bagel contains:
As you can see, a multigrain bagel is relatively high in carbohydrates and calories for a single serving. The fiber content is a positive attribute, providing 20% of the daily value. Fiber helps slow digestion, control blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and promote digestive health. The majority of the carbs come from the whole grains. There are minimal amounts of natural sugars and fat. You also get a decent amount of protein from the grains and gluten.
Benefits of Multigrain Bagels
Here are some of the key benefits that make multigrain bagels a healthy breakfast choice in moderation:
The combination of whole grains in multigrain bagels provides more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than refined white flour alone. Some of the key nutrients include:
- B vitamins – Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate
- Vitamin E
These vitamins and minerals offer various health benefits, ranging from increased energy to immune function, bone health, muscle function, and metabolic activity. The wide array provides a broader spectrum of nutrients compared to white flour bagels.
As noted earlier, a multigrain bagel contains about 5g of dietary fiber per serving. This comes mainly from the bran layers of the whole grains used. Fiber has been linked to many health benefits, including:
- Improved digestion
- Increased satiety after eating
- Lower cholesterol
- Better blood sugar control
- Weight management
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Decreased risk of some cancers
Aim for 25-30g of fiber per day, so a multigrain bagel can help you achieve 20% of your goal. The fiber will keep you fuller for longer, preventing overeating.
Unlike simple sugars that spike your blood sugar quickly, the complex carbohydrates in whole grains provide longer lasting energy. The carbs are absorbed more slowly, helping keep blood sugar stable. This results in more consistent energy levels, improved concentration and focus, better athletic performance, and reduced fatigue throughout the day.
Can Aid Weight Loss
With 51g of carbs per bagel, moderation is key for weight management. But multigrain bagels may promote weight loss in several ways:
- Fiber increases satiety so you eat fewer calories
- The volume can help fill you up on fewer calories
- Protein and fiber balance out blood sugar response
- Provides longer lasting energy so you snack less
- Takes longer to digest than refined grains
When combined with lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables, multigrain bagels can be part of a balanced diet for weight loss.
Potential Drawbacks of Multigrain Bagels
While multigrain bagels have some nutritional advantages over plain white flour bagels, they also have some potential downsides to keep in mind:
High in Carbs
At 51g of carbs per serving, multigrain bagels are one of the highest carb breakfast choices. Consuming too many carbs, even from whole grains, can hinder weight loss, spike blood sugar, and cause fatigue or gastrointestinal issues in some people. Those on low-carb diets should avoid bagels or limit portion sizes.
Easy to Overeat
Bagels tend to be dense and low in moisture. It’s common to consume more than one portion unintentionally, resulting in excess calorie, carb, and sodium intake. Be mindful of appropriate serving sizes, especially if adding spreads or toppings.
Commercial Varieties May Lack Nutrients
Some commercial multigrain bagels only contain a small amount of whole grains mixed with refined wheat flour. They lack the full nutrient spectrum of high quality, 100% whole grain bagels. Check the ingredient label for whole wheat flour as the first ingredient.
Often High in Sodium
If buying pre-packaged multigrain bagels from the grocery store, check the sodium content. Many commercial varieties contain 350-500mg per bagel to increase shelf life. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day.
Toppings Can Add Calories
While plain multigrain bagels have some great nutritional perks, what you put on them makes a big difference. Loading up with high-fat cream cheese, butter, sugary jellies, or processed meats can result in excess calories, saturated fat, and sodium.
Healthy Topping Ideas
Choosing healthy toppings is key to making sure your multigrain bagel maintains its nutritional benefits. Here are some delicious options:
- Nut butters
- Low-fat cream cheese
- Low-fat ricotta cheese
- Smoked salmon
- Turkey or chicken breast
- Hard boiled egg
- Tomato slices
- Bell peppers
- Banana slices
- Low-fat mozzarella
- Goat cheese crumbles
- Grated parmesan
Condiments & Seasonings
- Hot sauce
- Everything bagel seasoning
Get creative with combinations like hummus and cucumber, almond butter with banana, smoked salmon and capers, or turkey with avocado and tomato.
Portion Control Tips
Moderation and portion control are important when eating multigrain bagels to keep calories in check:
- Stick to 1/2 or 1/4 of a large bagel
- Choose mini bagels
- Split with a friend
- Opt for an open-faced bagel thin
- Load up on veggies rather than high-fat spreads
- Drink water to help fill you up
- Avoid gobbling mindlessly while working
Measure out a proper serving to avoid overeating empty calories. Combine your bagel with protein and healthy fats to balance your meal.
If you are limiting carbs or calories, here are some lighter multigrain bagel alternatives:
- Multigrain toast or pita
- Open-faced bagel thin
- Lettuce wrap or collard wrap
- Portobello mushroom cap
- Sweet potato toast
- Bell pepper rings
You can top these lower-carb options just like a bagel for a fiber and nutrient boost. Other alternatives like oatmeal, chia pudding, or a veggie omelet can also make for satisfying breakfasts.
Best Types of Multigrain Bagels
When shopping for multigrain bagels, look for these beneficial qualities:
- 100% whole grain – Made entirely from whole wheat and other whole grains, no refined flour
- Sprouted grain – Made from sprouted whole grains for easier digestion
- High fiber – At least 4-5g per serving
- Low sodium – Under 300mg per serving
- No high fructose corn syrup – Avoid added sugars
- Non-GMO – Uses non-genetically modified grains
- Organic – For those seeking to avoid pesticides
- Hearty grains – Ingredient list shows whole grains like oats, rye, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, barley etc.
You can find quality multigrain bagels even in many grocery store bakeries. Check the expiration date and give them a quick toast to maximize freshness.
How to Store Bagels Correctly
To maintain freshness and texture of your multigrain bagels:
- Store unused bagels at room temperature up to 2 days
- Refrigerate up to 5 days in a plastic bag
- Freeze up to 3 months in freezer bag
- Thaw frozen bagels in refrigerator overnight
- Avoid soggy bagels by separating with parchment or wax paper before storing
- Revive stale bagels by misting with water and reheating briefly
Proper storage helps retain the crunchy crust and chewy interior of a fresh multigrain bagel.
Delicious Multigrain Bagel Recipes
Here are some tasty homemade multigrain bagel recipes to try:
Flaxseed Multigrain Bagels
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp honey
- Toppings like sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cornmeal
In a mixer, combine dry ingredients. Add water and honey and knead for 5 minutes. Let dough rise 1 hour. Divide into 8 pieces, shape into balls, poke hole in center. Allow to rise again briefly. Boil in baking soda water then bake at 425F 15 minutes. Brush with egg white wash and sprinkle toppings.
Low Carb Almond Flour Bagels
- 2 cups almond flour
- 2 tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Optional: Everything bagel seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds
Mix dry ingredients. Whisk eggs, butter, and vinegar. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Divide into 4 pieces and shape into bagels. Top with seasonings if desired. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.
7 Grain Seeded Bagels
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup 7 or 9 grain cereal mix
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- Toppings like sesame seeds, caraway seeds, dried onion
Activate yeast in warm water with honey. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk in flour, grains, and salt. Knead dough until smooth. Let rise 1 hour. Divide into 10 pieces, shape into bagels. Boil briefly in water with honey and baking soda. Top with seeds. Bake at 425F for 12 minutes.
Multigrain bagels can provide whole grain nutrition in a convenient breakfast package. In moderation, they deliver a variety of minerals, fiber, protein, and antioxidants from their combination of healthy grains. Be mindful of portion sizes, and load up your bagel with nutritious toppings over high-fat, high-calorie spreads. Focus on 100% whole grain varieties without added sugars or high sodium. Homemade multigrain bagels give you full control over the quality of ingredients. Overall, multigrain bagels can be part of a nutritious breakfast routine when enjoyed properly. Just practice portion control and top them wisely.