We put 10 of the most common nutrition questions to Prof Grant Schofield and Dr Caryn Zinn. Here’s question 3: What is a healthy diet?



A healthy diet is one that is low in human interference. In other words, it avoids the category of foods that we call ultra-processed foods. In most developed countries, more than half, possibly two-thirds, of what people put in their shopping trolleys at supermarkets, would be categorised as ultra-processed food.

That’s the target for getting people healthier-eating. You can do all the work about macronutrients and other components of nutrition, but it starts with this – a healthy diet is one which is less processed.

Moving with that philosophy of low-HI (human interference factor), a healthy diet, irrespective of what the macronutrients ratios are – carbohydrates, protein and fat – the micronutrients and fibre content need to be satisfied. So, if you can choose a range of whole, unprocessed foods – such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk and dairy, nuts and seeds, and fruit and vegetables, in the proportions that give you all the micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals – and fibre you need, that is considered a healthy diet.

Here’s one more for you – a healthy diet should also allow you to keep a stable blood glucose and prevent your hyper-secreting insulin – that’s a more scientific answer. If your diet makes you get high glucose, for example, if you are insulin-resistant (if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes) and you consume a lot of fruit, such as bananas, apples and oranges, then you won’t be able to sustain that. So, it is context-dependent.


Learn more

Take your nutrition knowledge to the next level. Prof Grant Schofield and Dr Caryn Zinn are the lead instructors in the Certificate in Advanced Nutrition

The Certificate in Advanced Nutrition:

  • is designed to give you a university-level education in nutrition at a fraction of the cost.
  • gives you a solid foundation in the science and practice of nutrition including low-carbohydrate and keto diets, fasting, weight loss, gut health and allergies.

Learn more here.


Read more

Question 1: How much read meat should I eat?

Question 2: Can I eat bread if I’m on a low-carb or keto diet?

Question 3: What is a healthy diet?

Question 4: Should I avoid dairy products

Question 5: Is eating plants only healthier than eating meat and plants?

Question 6: Do calories matter for weight loss?

Question 7: Do stress and sleep affect weight loss?

Question 8: Dietary guidelines – what’s wrong with them?

Question 9: Does alcohol contain a lot of sugar?