Pulses (dry beans, peas, lentils) are nutrient-dense foods that are recommended as good choices in either the vegetable or meat and alternative food groups in Canada's Food Guide. To examine the prevalence and the effect of pulse consumption on nutrient intake in Canadian adults ( ≥ 19 years), we analysed cross-sectional data (n 20 156) from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2·2. Participants were divided into non-consumers and quartiles of pulse intake. Sample weights were applied and logistic regression analysis was used to explore the association of nutrient intakes and pulse consumption, with cultural background, sex, age and economic status included as covariates. On any given day, 13 % of Canadians consume pulses, with the highest consumption in the Asian population. The pulse intake of consumers in the highest quartile was 294 (se 40) g/d and, compared with non-consumers, these individuals had higher intakes of carbohydrate, fibre and protein. As well, the micronutrient intake of pulse consumers was enhanced, resulting in fewer individuals who were below the estimated average requirement for thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, Fe, Mg, P and Zn, compared with non-consumers. Although pulses are generally low in Na, its intake also was higher in pulse consumers. Among the higher quartiles of pulse consumers, fruit and vegetable intake was one serving higher. These data indicate that pulse consumption supports dietary advice that pulses be included in healthful diets. Further studies elucidating the sources of increased Na in pulse consumers will be necessary so that dietary advice to increase consumption of pulses will maximise their nutritional benefits.