Gluten-free – Allowable levels: To be labeled gluten-free, each lot of pulse flour needs to be tested for gluten. A maximum <20ppm is the allowable limit in a food according to the standard as set by Codex in 2008 (Codex Stan 118-1981).

Health Canada Gluten-Free Claim: Based on scientific evidence, Health Canada considers that gluten-free foods, prepared under good manufacturing practices and containing levels of gluten not exceeding 20ppm, as a result of cross-contamination, meet the health and safety intent of B.24.018 when a gluten-free claim is made.

Nutritional comparison of gluten-free, wheat and pulse flours: This nutritional comparison of 1 cup of typical gluten-free flours, including pulse flours, and wheat flours is based on a chart excerpted from Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, RD.



Minimum risk of aflatoxins/vomitoxin in peas

Pulses form in pods, and so are protected from field fungi which can produce toxic compounds such as aflatoxins and vomitoxin, both prior to and during the harvest. Processing pulses, cleaned of dockage and foreign material prior to delivery, in a pulse-dedicated facility, virtually eliminates the risk of aflatoxins/vomotoxin.



Pulses are high in dietary fiber and protein, and rich in micronutrients including iron, calcium, zinc, folate and other B vitamins, yet low in fat. This chart from The Gluten-Free Diet: a Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, RD, compares the nutritional composition of various flours, including both wheat and gluten-free flours with pulse flours. It provides helpful information for food formulators looking to improve the nutritional profile of the foods they create.

See nutritional profile of pulse flours.



Protein content – The protein content of peas will vary as a result of the variety, and the environmental conditions under which they were grown including the area the peas were grown in and the growing conditions. For example, in 2006 and 2007, the levels of protein in peas grown in western Canada varied from 17.8 -28.7% (dry weight basis).

Hood-Niefer, S, Warkentin, T, Chibbar, R, Vandenberg, A, & Tyler, R, Effect of genotype and environment on the concentrations of starch and protein in, and the physicochemical properties of starch from field pea and fababean. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2012; 92(1):141-50.

United States (PDCASS): Pulse Canada has published a fact sheet reviewing the protein quality of cooked pulses using the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) method.

Protein Quality of Cooked Pulses (PDCAAS Method). Pulse Canada fact sheet, 2011.

Canada (PER): Health Canada has approved Pulse Canada’s submission to adopt new Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) data for pulses. PER values are provided in the table below (highlighted in red) and are used to generate the protein rating (right hand column). Protein ratings are calculated based on a 250mL serving, Health Canada’s RDI (reasonable daily intake) for pulses (protein rating = PER multiplied by amount of protein in 250 ml). Values from 20-39.9 qualify for a Source of Protein claim. Values of 40 or greater qualify for an Excellent Source of Protein Claim.

See Health Canada’s Protein Efficiency Ratios.


Pulses use only half the non-renewable energy inputs of other crops, as well as having a low carbon footprint. They also improve the sustainability of cropping systems (by “nitrogen fixing”). Pulse Canada has been at the forefront of developing systems that accurately measure the environmental impact of crops from field to plate.

See Pulse Canada: Environmental Sustainability 



Definitions and Method of Testing

Canadian Dietary Fibre Policy – In February 2012, the Health Canada Bureau of Nutritional Science Food Directorate of the Health Products and Food Branch issued a report: Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products.

The goal of this report is to bring Canada up to date with international standards regarding the definition of dietary fibre. The report includes a revised definition for dietary fibre, as well as a new caloric value for determining the energy value of a dietary fibre. Within the report, Health Canada, in consultation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), proposed a list of appropriate analytical methods for dietary fibre. The AOAC 2009.01 method is seen as effective for measuring the total dietary fibre content of a food, regardless of the fibre chemical structure. This method eliminates issues of double accounting when certain potential fibre fractions such as resistant starch, polydextrose and inulin are partially and completely measured by a combination of general and specific methods.

Differences Between Traditional TDF and the Newest TDF Methods – Medallion Labs has provided a helpful summary of the differences between the traditional TDF and newest TDF methods. Health Canada now requires the use of methods AOAC 2009.01 or AOAC 2011.25 for dietary fiber labeling purposes.

Insoluble and soluble fiber definitions: Insoluble and soluble fibers are two forms of plant material included in definitions of dietary fiber. They are identified by their water solubility. Dietitians recommend a consumption ratio of 3:1, insoluble to soluble. Whole pulses are an excellent source of both insoluble and soluble fiber.



Functionality Resources

  1. Research on Molecular, Functional and Processing Characteristics of Whole Pulses and Pulse Fractions and their Emerging Food and Nutraceutical Applications
  2. Flour Particle Size – Pulse flours with a coarser particle size were found to be preferable when incorporating pulse flours into pita bread.
    Borsuk, Y, Arntfield, SD, Lukow, O, Swallow, K, & Malcolmson, L, Incorporation of Pulse Flours of Different Particle Size in Relation to Pita Bread Quality. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2012; 92(10):2055-61.
  3. Milling Method – The Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI) is undertaking a four-year milling and utilization project focused on expanding knowledge about pulse flour composition and functionality, and how to optimize them for commercial end-use applications.
    The project is examining the effect of four different milling methods (stone, hammer, pin and roller milling) on the compositional, physical, functional and end-use suitability of pulse flours. Early results which examined the effect of milling method on cookies found differences in the quality of cookies made with the different yellow pea flours. These differences included colour, cookie height and cookie spread.  The Canadian pulse industry continue to develop and optimize the use of pulse flours as a high-quality food ingredient. Heather Maskus research and projects on Advancing Pulse Flour Processing and Applications

Food Applications:

  1. Cookies– Pulse flours have been successfully incorporated into commercial cookie recipes.
    Zucco, F, Borsuk, Y & Arntfield, S, Physical and nutritional evaluation of wheat cookies, supplemented with pulse flours of different particle sizes. Food Science and Technology, 2012; 44:2070-6.
  2. Crackers– Gluten-free cracker snacks were developed using commercially available pulse flours and fractions.
    Han, J, Janz, J, & Gerlat, M, Development of gluten-free cracker snacks using pulse flours and fractions. Food Research International, 2010; 43:627-33.
  3. Extruded Products– This poster summarizes work looking at the suitability of pulse flours in spaghetti and extruded snacks.
    Frolich, P, Bellido, A-M, Boux, G, & Malcolmson, L, Suitability of Pulse Flours in Extruded Products. AACC International Meeting, Palm Springs, California, 2011.
  4. Pulses in Extruded Snack and Cereal Products Fact Sheet
  5. Batters and Breadings– A research project conducted by the Food Development Centre (FDC) in Manitoba evaluated the use of pea fractions in coatings for three meat applications: ready-to-cook (RTC) tempura-battered chicken nuggets; RTC breaded fish sticks; and fully cooked glazed chicken breasts. The research findings established that pea starch, pea flour, and pea fiber can be utilized in meat coatings to replace traditional corn, wheat, and thickening (gum) ingredients and produce better-for-you prepared products that can attain a fiber nutrient content claim. (see also 4. Flavour Issues)
    Using Pulses in Batter and Breading Applications, Pulse Canada fact sheet, 2011.

    The FDC team also evaluated pea fractions in coatings for mozzarella sticks.
    Caspar, L, Kehler, L, Meseyton, J, Utioh, A,& Wan, M, Potential for yellow pea ingredient utilization in breaded mozzarella stick coatings as determined by functional, sensory and nutritional properties. Poster presentation at CIFST, Niagara Falls, Canada 2012.
    See the FDC’s final report: Evaluation of Pea Starch in the Development of Functional Coatings Using Pea Ingredients for French Fry, Mozzarella Stick, and Onion Ring Applications.
  6. Noodles – Lindsay Bourré examined the suitability of pulse flours in dried Asian white salted noodles, looking at their effect on nutritional quality and noodle characteristics. Lindsay Bourré examined the suitability of pulse flours in dried Asian white salted noodles, looking at their effect on nutritional quality and noodle characteristics.
  7. Beverages, Salad Dressings and Yoghurts– Joyce Boye (Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Food Research and Development Centre, St Hyacinth, Quebec) and Benjamin Simpson (Department of Food Science, McGill University) investigated the inclusion of pulse fractions in fruit juices, yoghurt and probiotic cultures, and salad dressings.
  8. Low-fat bologna – Chickpea flour is a potential source of high protein flour for use as an extender in emulsified meat product due to its superior technological functionality and minimal effects on flavour.Sanjeewa, W, Wanasundara, J, Pietraski, Z, & Shand, P. Characterization of chickpea (Cier arietinum L.) flours and application in low-fat pork bologna as a model system. Food Research International, 2010; 43:617-626. 
  9. Gluten-Free Applications – Pulse Canada in collaboration with Shelley Case, RD, dietician and author and Carol Fenster, PhD, consultant and author of several gluten-free cookbooks, developed a recipe book Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet: Cooking with Beans, Peas, Lentils and Chickpeas. It offers 26 gluten-free recipes using pea, bean, lentil and chickpea ingredients, including whole yellow pea flour and chickpea flour.

Best Ingredient Applications


Avena BEST Ingredients whitepapers are a helpful resource for research and development, product innovation, and marketing teams exploring pulse ingredients and potential uses for these nutritional and highly functional flours, grits and fibers.

  • How can pulses be used to increase the nutritional content and the structure of gluten-free foods?
  • What is the optimal ratio of pulse and cereal flours in order to maximize the PDCAAS (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score) and thereby the quality protein of a food?
  • How can the high albumin content of pulse flours be utilized to replace eggs in food products?
  • What are the advantages of pea hull fiber?

Scroll through and see some of the benefits these ingredients are able to offer. Alternatively, please contact us and we will help you with just what you need.



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