Nutritional Combined Greenhouse Gas Life Cycle Analysis for Incorporating Canadian Yellow Pea into Cereal-Based Food Products

Nutrients. 2018 Apr 16;10(4):490. doi: 10.3390/nu10040490.


Incorporating low cost pulses, such as yellow peas, that are rich in nutrients and low in fertilizer requirements, into daily food items, can improve the nutritional and sustainability profile of national diets. This paper systematically characterized the effect of using Canadian grown whole yellow pea and refined wheat flours on nutritional density and carbon footprint in cereal-based food products. Canada-specific production data and the levels of 27 macro- and micronutrients were used to calculate the carbon footprint and nutrient balance score (NBS), respectively, for traditional and reformulated pan bread, breakfast cereal, and pasta. Results showed that partial replacement of refined wheat flour with yellow pea flour increased the NBS of pan bread, breakfast cereal, and pasta by 11%, 70%, and 18%, and decreased the life cycle carbon footprint (kg CO₂ eq/kg) by 4%, 11%, and 13%, respectively. The cultivation stage of wheat and yellow peas, and the electricity used during the manufacturing stage of food production, were the hotspots in the life cycle. The nutritional and greenhouse gas (GHG) data were combined as the nutrition carbon footprint score (NCFS) (NBS/g CO₂ per serving), a novel indicator that reflects product-level nutritional quality per unit environmental impact. Results showed that yellow pea flour increased the NCFS by 15% for pan bread, 90% for breakfast cereal, and 35% for pasta. The results and framework of this study are relevant for food industry, consumers, as well as global and national policy-makers evaluating the effect of dietary change and food reformulation on nutritional and climate change targets.

Keywords: agriculture; bread; carbon footprint; cereal; greenhouse gas; nutrient density; nutrition; pasta; peas; pulses.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Carbon Footprint
  • Edible Grain*
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Handling*
  • Food, Fortified / analysis
  • Greenhouse Gases*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Peas*


  • Greenhouse Gases