Healthy vs. Healthful vs. Salutary: Know the difference

Some people hold the opinion that there is no difference between healthy and healthful. However, some says against it. Here, the question arises what the difference between healthy and healthful.
In this post, we will share the true story of the words: healthy, healthful, wholesome, salutary.




What is the meaning of Healthy?
Healthy is an adjective. It means having or showing a good health.
  1. a healthy baby
  2. my healthy body
Healthy can also mean large in size or amount.
  1. She got a healthy salary.
  2. His business earns a healthy profit.

What is the meaning of Healthful ?
Healthful is an adjective. It means good for you health.
  1. The meal was very healthful.
  2. Fast foods are not healthful.

What is the meaning of Salutary?
Salutary is an adjective. It means something that is good for your health, though often seeming unpleasant, like a salutary exercise/experience.

Salutary in sentence:
  1. People took to two wheels anyway, and quickly discovered the salutary benefits of exercise. - Washington Post
  2. The accident should be a salutary lesson to be more careful.

What is the meaning of Wholesome ?
Wholesome is an adjective. Wholesome is something that helps you keep your body healthy.
A joke or fun can be wholesome, if it has a positive effect on your mental state.

Wholesome in sentence:
  1. Now enjoy this wholesome photo of the two finally being reunited Tuesday afternoon. - The Verge
  2. The hotel is warm and the food wholesome.
  3. It may sound a lot like a wholesome drama from Hallmark. - Fox News

What is the difference between Healthy and Healthful ?
Healthy is used to describe someone or something that has good health. The word healthy applies only to those things that possess good, like a healthy child, a healthy animal, etc.
Healthful is used to describe something that promotes good health.
Healthful exercises give you good health.
A fresh apple can be healthful.
Yoga is healthful if you do it in a proper way.

Point of Debate:
Can healthy be used in place of healthful 
Is healthy synonym of healthful ?
Dictionaries, like Oxford, Collins, Merriam Webster show that the word healthy can be used to mean healthful, meaning good for your health.
What experts say:
Grammar Girl says, " Healthy has long been used to describe things that improve your constitution. The Oxford English Dictionary shows that healthy has been used to mean “healthful or wholesome” since the 1500s. Yet, the rule makers railed against healthy in the 1800s, and it was in a battle against healthful for dominance for many years. Ultimately, though, people voted for a healthy diet instead of a healthful diet."
 Vocabulary.com says, "This word pair, healthful and healthy, has been causing debate for over a century. The question is whether these adjectives can both be used to mean conducive to good health. This is what gets some word mavens' blood boiling. Healthy, they say, cannot be used to mean conducive to good health. But according to the Oxford English Dictionary, healthy has been a synonym for healthful since its earliest appearance in print... in 1552."
Be careful:
Be careful with the word healthy and healthful. One should use healthy and healthful as synonyms for conducive to good health.
It is OK to write "a healthy or healthful apple", "a healthy or healthful climate".
However, a person or a child can't be healthful (use healthy here). Use the word healthy if you are referring to someone (a person or a child) who enjoys or has good health.
Healthful has only one definition that is health-giving.

Now Salutary and Wholesome:
Salutary is used to describe actions or properties that seems unpleasant but have a remedial influence.
Salutary food
  • You can describe bitter gourd as salutary food, as it has unpleasant taste but remedial influence.
Wholesome can be synonym for healthful. Wholesome is something that promotes good health; as, wholesome meal, wholesome advice, etc.

In a nutshell:
The conclusion is here:
 Healthy and Healthful can be used to describe something that is good for you.

With the Google Ngram, you can see the word healthy is winning the match.

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