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Enriched grains contribute to health, study says

Halifax – New findings presented at the recent Canadian Nutrition Society annual conference in Halifax show that many foods made from not only whole grains but also enriched grains are important nutrient contributors to the Canadian diet.

A University of Saskatchewan research project examined grain consumption patterns identified in the recently released 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) by Statistics Canada.

The early findings suggest consumption patterns of grain foods made from whole grains and enriched non-whole grains deliver a considerable amount of some key nutrients to the diet (43 per cent of folate, 39 per cent of iron and 31 per cent of dietary fibre) while contributing only 25 per cent of the daily calories, said the Healthy Grains Institute in a news release.

Adults and young Canadians who consume grain foods in general have a higher daily intake of dietary fibre and nutrients such as folate, iron and some B vitamins, compared to those who do not eat grain foods.


“When we examined the CCHS data, we discovered that nearly 80 per cent of Canadian adults are not eating the current Canada’s Food Guide (2007) of 6-7 servings of grains,” said lead researcher Dr. Hassan Vatanparast.

“But the grain foods they do consume are contributing important sources of some key nutrients and those individuals who do not consume grains may be at risk for these important nutrients, such as folic acid, some B vitamins and iron,” said Vatanparast, associate professor in the univeristy’s Colleges of Pharmacy and Nutrition and School of Public Health.

While benefits of whole grain foods such as oats, quinoa, and whole wheat bread are well documented, there’s less research supporting the benefits of enriched grain foods (sometimes referred to as refined grains) such as white bread, pasta and cereals.

“In fact, our research showed that most of the grain foods that Canadians consume are actually made from enriched grains, such as breads, cereals, and pastas, which help adults and children to close nutrient recommendations gaps,” said Vatanparast.

“According to the CCHS 2015 data, refined grains are currently contributing 23 per cent of Canadians’ daily fibre, 40 per cent of folate and 31 per cent of the iron, so it becomes clear that they are important food sources for delivering those key nutrients in the Canadian diet.”

Nutrition researcher Yanni Papanikolaou, vice-president at Nutritional Strategies Inc., who also contributed to the study, added, “The U of S researchers also found that the body mass index (BMI) of people who eat grains is not different from the BMI of people who do not eat grains, suggesting that eliminating grain foods from diets is not associated with the BMI.”

The findings presented are from early results of the project, which will continue at the University of Saskatchewan into 2020.

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