Cutting out grains cuts out important nutrient sources

New research highlights enriched grain and whole grain foods as important nutrient contributors to Canadians’ diets


Toronto, ON (May 7, 2021)—New findings presented at the Canadian Nutrition Society annual conference this past weekend in Halifax, Nova Scotia, show that many foods made from enriched (refined) grains and whole grains are important nutrient contributors to the Canadian diet.

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

The early findings reveal that 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 only contributing 25 per cent of the daily calories.

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 U of 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, adds, “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.



For more information, or to book an interview, please contact:

Lindsey Coulter

Weber Shandwick, on behalf of the HGI


[email protected]

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Thoma
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan
[email protected]


About The Research Project

The current study used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (Nutrition) 2015 (CCHS 2015). CCHS 2015 is a nationally representative sample of 20,487 Canadian adults and children (1+ years of age) and collects information from Canadians about their eating habits, use of nutritional supplements, as well as other health-related factors. For the current study, CCHS 2015 was used to investigate daily nutrient intakes and calories from various grain foods commonly consumed in the Canadian diet. The study used a statistical procedure called cluster analysis, which allowed the researchers to identify typical patterns of grain consumption in Canadians. No grain consumption was defined as individuals consuming less than 1 serving per day of grains.

The project is funded jointly by the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (SWDC), the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), the Grain Farmers of Ontario and Mitacs, a Canadian not-for-profit funding agency supporting industry-academia collaborations.

About The Healthy Grains Institute (HGI)

Launched in November 2012, the Healthy Grains Institute’s mission is to inform and enhance Canadians’ knowledge and understanding of the health benefits of grains. The Healthy Grains Institute is guided by an independent and multidisciplinary Scientific Advisory Council consisting of recognized plant science and nutritional experts from across North America. The Healthy Grains Institute is committed to providing Canadians with science-based information on the benefits of grains as an important part of a healthy, balanced diet.


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