University of Saskatchewan study shows importance of grain to Canada’s diet

A University of Saskatchewan research project examined grain consumption patterns. Martin Bureau/Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) used a statistical procedure called cluster analysis to identify typical patterns of grain consumption in Canadians.

The U of S research project examined patterns identified in the Canadian Community Health Survey 2015 (CCHS 2015) by Statistics Canada.

The early findings of the project show many foods made from enriched or whole grains deliver a high amount of key nutrients to the Canadian diet while only contributing 25 per cent of the daily calories.

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Lead researcher Hassan Vatanparast said they discovered nearly 80 per cent of adults are not eating the current recommended servings of grains in the Canada’s Food Guide.

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“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,” Vatanparast said in a press release.

U of S officials said there’s less research supporting the benefits of enriched grain foods, sometimes referred to as refined grains.

“In fact, our research showed that most of the grain foods that Canadians consume are actually made from enriched grains,” Vatanparast said.

“So, considering that refined grains are currently contributing 23 per cent of Canadian’s daily fibre, 40 per cent of folate, and 31 per cent of the iron, it becomes clear that they are important food sources for delivering key nutrients in the Canadian diet.”

Nutritional Strategies Inc. vice-president Yanni Papanikolaou, who also contributed to the study, added the U of S research suggests eliminating grain foods from diets is not associated with the body mass index (BMI).

CCHS 2015 is a nationally representative sample of 20,487 Canadian adults and children that collected information about eating habits, use of nutritional supplements, as well as other health-related factors.

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The U of S research project will continue into 2020.

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