Food Smackdown: Donuts vs. Bagels

posted Jan 7, 2011, 12:20 PM by   [ updated Jul 22, 2011, 12:46 PM ]

Food Smackdown:Donut vs. Bagel

Is a donut healthier than a bagel? Someone told me that the donut was healthier due to the simple sugars, and I want to verify it.

Many people automatically assume a bagel is a healthier option than a donut.  For the purpose of this question, we’re going to assume we’re in a Dunkin’ Donuts trying to decide between these two. 

In one corner we have the glazed donut, a sugar-laden fried pastry that people have been known to go crazy for versus the bagel, a condensed bread product that people also claim an addiction to.    Let’s take a look at their stats to see who the contenders are. 


Glazed Donut

Plain Bagel

Winner Category Smackdown




Donut: Save 80 calories

Fat (g)



Bagel: Save 11.5 g fat

Carbs (g)



Donut: ½ the carbs

Sugar (g)



Bagel: Less than ½ the sugar

Fiber (g)



Bagel: 4 more grams fiber

Protein (g)



Bagel: 8 more grams protein

Source: Dunkin’ Donuts Website

While the donut comes out swinging strong by having fewer calories and ½ the carbs, the bagel ultimately triumphs by being lower in fat and higher in fiber and protein.  Of course you have to take into account what you’re slathering on your bagel.  Just adding 2 tablespoons of regular cream cheese to your bagel will add another 70 calories and 7 grams of fat, making this contest a little bit closer to call.  Bottom line, if I had to choose between a donut and a plain bagel I would probably choose the bagel because at least I would get some more fiber and protein and less sugar.  If you have an option, I would not recommend having a bagel every day as it’s the equivalent of eating 4 slices of bread.  While I doubt the donut will ever be considered a health food, what’s important to take away from this discussion is the importance of not automatically assuming something is healthy or unhealthy based on its name alone.  For example, we might think a muffin might be healthier but the Dunkin’ Donuts blueberry muffin has 450 calories with 10 grams of fat and 86 grams of carbohydrates.  Suddenly that donut isn’t looking so bad after all.