My parents are staying with us for a few weeks, and my Mom recently asked about my daily bagel and lox habit.
I know it’s probably not what I should be eating every day. But I do love it so. And really, how bad could it be?
You might recall that I tried to answer this very question nearly two years ago in my Oatmeal vs. Lox post. That was when I discovered lox has a lot of sodium (yes, it’s ridiculous this was news to me. But it was. Truly.) But I also found solace in the fact that lox also delivers omega 3 fatty acids and lean protein – good for lowering cholesterol. So while I concluded that I should switch to cereal or oatmeal, I guess it never felt like an emergency.
Because, you know, there was good along with the bad.
But now my Mom’s question had me thinking. So I delved into the numbers. For real this time. I did about 2 hours of research.
The answer is not pretty.
It’s ugly actually.
This time, I calculated the actual nutritional value of what I am eating. My bagel and lox habit consists of one-half of a bagel topped with 1 TB of whipped cream cheese and 0.5 oz of lox. I input this into My Fitness Pal and compared it to the oatmeal breakfast I would actually eat if forced to eat oatmeal (1 packet of Quaker Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal made with 3/4 cup of organic skim milk).
Full details in this spreadsheet. Here are the couple of take-aways that I found surprising:
- My bagel and lox breakfast is BETTER than oatmeal in the sugar category – but this is the ONLY nutritional value where lox is better. Sigh. And if I wasn’t such a huge baby and could manage unsweetened oatmeal (ugh) rather than the childish Maple & Brown Sugar, probably my bagel and lox would not be a huge winner here either.
- On the sodium front, these two breakfast options are about the same! I guess Quaker puts a lot of sodium in (with the huge amount of sugar) for a flavor punch. Ouch.
- The difference in FIBER was not huge. This was quite surprising – because I thought I should be eating oatmeal because of the fiber. Which is certainly better than my bagel and lox. But it wasn’t a huge amount better.
- In the end, it turns out I should be eating oatmeal (made with skim milk) not only because of the fiber. Also because the oatmeal breakfast has less saturated fat, similar protein, less dietary cholesterol, and a lot more vitamins, calcium and iron than my beloved bagel and lox. (Damn that skim milk. If I made the oatmeal with water, I bet the bagel and lox numbers would be far closer.)
If you’d like to see the full details, here is a PDF of the spreadsheet I created which compares the nutritional comparison details of these two breakfasts, for those so inclined.
Now that I know that the oatmeal with skim milk option is a far healthier choice than my half-bagel with a smidge of whipped cream cheese and one small slice of lox, perhaps I’ll start with the oatmeal again.
And if that doesn’t stick, maybe I’ll research some cold cereals. That Special K with cinnamon pecan isn’t bad…