Bagels and whitefish salad is a classic deli sandwich for good reason. The chewy bagel makes the perfect foil for the creamy, smoky fish salad, and the sandwich is satisfying without being too filling. Are bagels and whitefish good for you, though, or is this snack a nutrition no-no?
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The Good News About Bagels
Bagels, even the large deli ones, usually don't have more than 2 grams of fat, and practically none of this is saturated or trans fat. Large (4.5 inches in diameter) bagels of the plain, onion, poppy or sesame variety also have zero cholesterol, 3 g (12 percent of the recommended daily value, or DV) of dietary fiber, and 1.8 mg (10 percent of the DV) of iron.
The Bad News About Bagels
Bagels aren't exactly low in calories--a large (4.5 inch in diameter) bagel has about 360 calories, approximately 60 calories more than a large (3.5 inch in diameter) chocolate-frosted doughnut. Bagels are also high in sodium, (700 mg, or 29 percent of the DV) and loaded with carbs (70 g, or 23 percent of the DV).
The Good News about Whitefish Salad
An average serving of whitefish salad has about 4 oz. smoked whitefish, which contains 28 g of protein. Whitefish is also an excellent source of vitamin B12, with 3.6 mcg (60 percent of the DV), and a good source of niacin (2.8 mg, or 12 percent of the DV), phosphorus (148 mg or 16 percent of the DV), potassium (472 mg or 12 percent of the DV), copper (0.4 mg, or 16 percent of the DV), selenium (15.2 mcg or 20 percent of the DV) and vitamin B6 (0.4 mg or 20 percent of the DV).
The Bad News about Whitefish Salad
Whitefish is very high in sodium, with 1,140 mg, or 48 percent of the DV. But the real trouble with whitefish salad lies with the mayonnaise--an average serving of whitefish salad contains nearly 3 tbsp. mayonnaise, which adds an extra 171 calories on top of the 120 calories provided by the fish (not to mention the 360 calories from the bagel). What's worse, the mayonnaise calories are almost entirely from fat, and the 3 tbsp. serving adds 15 g (21 percent of the DV) to your formerly fat-free sandwich. The mayonnaise will also add 412 mg of sodium (16 percent of the DV))--remember, this is on top of the 1,140 mg from the whitefish and the 700 mg from the bagel, so the whole sandwich will put you at 93 percent of your recommended daily level of sodium. Better skip the side order of chips.
Healthier Bagels and Whitefish Salad
When you're ordering your deli sandwich, ask for a whole-grain bagel if possible. Such a bagel may have fewer calories (280 as opposed to 360) and a lower level of sodium (558 mg as opposed to 700 mg) than a plain, onion, poppyseed or sesame bagel. If you'll be making your own sandwich, homemade whitefish salad using low fat, low sodium mayonnaise can save you about 80 calories, 350 mg of sodium and 6 fat grams. If you use this homemade salad together with a wholegrain bagel, you can reduce the amount of calories in a whitefish salad bagel sandwich from 650 to 580, the amount of sodium from approximately 2,250 mg to 1900 mg, and the fat content from 15 g (3 g saturated fat) to 9 g (0 g saturated fat).