Meet the Whole Grain Bagel!
Starting off the day with a bagel is a given for millions of Americans – but how can you be sure your choice is a healthy one? Bagels have gotten a bad rap lately, with doughnut chains jumping on the bandwagon with selections that aren’t nearly as healthy as traditional bagels.
Make sure you visit a real bagel maker. A New York bagel shop or street cart with authentic new York bagels is your best bet, and if the bagels are hot from the steamy oven, so much the better! Then, simply choose the healthiest options. While a sourdough bagel may seem like just what your stomach is craving, consider a whole wheat bagel instead! Whole wheat gives you more nutrition and less empty calories, thanks to several factors.
Whole grains, in contrast to highly processed flour, retain a lot of their nutrients – including fiber and protein, which are good for digestion and make you feel full more quickly. You can also get extra benefits from whole grains, such as minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and healthy fats which can lower cholesterol and lead to better heart health.
Studies show that eating whole grains can also help you lose belly fat, reducing the chance of cardiac events or stroke. For diabetics or pre-diabetics, whole grains can help keep blood sugar levels from spiking, since the body takes longer to break down the carbohydrates in their complex form. Digestion can also improve with a daily dose of whole grains – they are less likely to lead to bloat, and the fiber aids regularity.
Once you’ve grabbed your multi grain bagel, make sure you top it appropriately. If there’s a low-fat, vegan, or whipped cream cheese option, g for it – or be even a little more offbeat and spread your bagel with peanut butter, hummus, or even guacamole!
You can also lower your bagel calories by finding a shop or cart that offers traditional smaller bagels instead of the more modern huge rounds, or by scooping out the center of the bagel and just enjoying the browned crust filled with a nutritious spread or even chicken salad.
Whether you’re ordering from your favorite cart on the street or buying a bag form the deli to take home for the weekend, you can get crazy with breakfast and lunch options. Slice and toast your whole wheat bagel, then go wild with fresh veggies like onions, tomatoes and pickles. Drizzle with mustard instead of a fattier option and enjoy a tangy snack.
Of course, what you get to go along with your bagel can affect how healthy your meal is. Consider skipping the coffee and opting for some herbal tea instead, or pair your whole grain roll with a hole with a fresh squeezed cup of juice. You don’t have to stick with boring orange – try grapefruit, make your own lemonade, or even haul out that juicer Aunt Jo gave you for your wedding and throw in some mangos, strawberries, and a chunk of pineapple for a morning shake that goes great with your whole wheat treat!