Crust is king: From the Editor's Desk

The 411 on grains
Colleen Cross
June 11, 2018
By
When it comes to pizza, crust is king. With all due respect to signature sauce and premium toppings, I doubt I’ll get much argument from operators. But the latest pizza research backs up this grand claim.

In the Canadian Pizza Consumer Trend Report, almost 60 per cent of respondents ranked dough/crust quality as first or second in importance. The report, released by research firm Technomic in late April, puts quality of toppings in second place, much lower at 36 per cent. So, we can say with confidence that pizza lovers look first and foremost for a crust that appeals.

Because crust quality – including taste, texture and health benefits – is important to your customers, here’s some news you can share with those asking about your pizza’s health factor.

New findings from a research project at the University of Saskatchewan suggest many foods made from enriched (also known as refined) grains as well as whole grains are important nutrient contributors to the Canadian diet.

The project looked at the eating habits and health of 20,000 Canadian adults and children as found in the latest (2015) Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) by Statistics Canada.

It found nearly 80 per cent of Canadian adults are not eating the current Canada’s Food Guide recommendation of six to seven servings of grains daily. It also found that, of the grains people are eating, enriched grains are giving them nutrition.

“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,” said lead researcher Hassan Vatanparast.

The U of S project also suggests Canadians who eat 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.

In fact, those who skip grains entirely may be at risk for these important nutrients.

Could it be that in trying to be healthier, some of us have lost sight of the principle of moderation?

We often hear about the benefits of whole-grain foods and whole-wheat bread, but the benefits of enriched grains, found in white bread and pasta, are less discussed.

This finding is more than a grudging “better than nothing.” In a post-Atkins diet world, where carbs seem always on the defensive, it puts grains squarely back on the table as part of a healthy diet.

But let’s not forget, a lot of people are interested in a healthier pizza crust. Almost one-third of customers aged 18 to 34 say they would eat pizza more often if there were healthier options available, according to Technomic’s research.

“A variety of nutritious foods and beverages are the foundation for healthy eating,” the federal government advises in one of its new guiding principles for the in-progress update of Canada’s Food Guide.

To help achieve this, Health Canada recommends “regular intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, especially plant-based sources of protein.”

The new principles definitely promote whole grains, and there is a lot of evidence of their solid health benefits. But think of the new endorsement of enriched grains as balancing the overall picture.

Look for more details of this study as they are released and more information on nutrition at canadianpizzamag.com

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