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What Are the WHO Suggestions for a Healthy Nutrient Intake?

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What Are the WHO Suggestions for a Healthy Nutrient Intake?

4 min read


This article will cover insights into the intake of the essential nutrients required by an individual for a healthy diet as per the WHO recommendations.

Written by

Dr. Zeba Jabeen

Medically reviewed by

Sonal Jain

Published At July 11, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 12, 2023

What Is a Nutrient and a Healthy Nutrient Intake?

A nutrient is a source of nourishment required for the growth and support of life. There are six significant nutrients or macronutrients; carbohydrates, proteins, lipids (fats), vitamins, minerals, and water. These nutrients provide the body with energy. They act as structural components of various molecules in the body, help in the growth and repair of the body cells, regulate chemical processes, etc. All these nutrients need to be taken in a particular amount by each individual to have good health, to prevent malnutrition and adverse effects of their overconsumption. This specific amount of intake is called healthy nutrient intake.

What Is a Healthy Diet?

A healthy intake of all the macronutrients and some micronutrients constitutes a healthy diet. A healthy diet prevents malnutrition in various forms and non-communicable diseases and medical conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc. A sedentary lifestyle has been adopted worldwide with advancements in science and technology. There is also an increasing trend of the urban culture consisting of the inclusion of more processed food in the diet and less physical work. Nowadays, the food consists of carbohydrates and sugars in various forms and less fiber and whole grains. This diet does not support the changed lifestyle and leads to many diseases and conditions which can be prevented otherwise. However, such lifestyle diseases and conditions can be controlled by changing diet and food habits and some of them can even be cured completely.

What Does WHO Suggest For a Healthy Diet?

The recommendations of a healthy diet or a healthy nutrient intake vary from one individual to another depending on their age, gender, lifestyle, amount of physical work, etc. The local culture and dietary trends and the type of food availability in the vicinity also play an essential role. Yet, the main components of a healthy diet are almost similar for all.

A healthy adult diet includes:

  • Fruits, vegetables, pulses (such as lentils and beans), nuts, and whole grains like (unprocessed) maize, millet, oats, wheat, and brown rice.

  • A minimum of 400 g of fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables each day. It is approximately five portions of the entire diet. Foods modified as roots like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, etc., should be excluded.

  • The intake of free sugars of less than 50 g or less than 10 % of total energy intake for a healthy person of appropriate body weight who consumes approximately 2000 calories each day. The ideal intake should be less than 5 % of total energy intake for added health benefits. WHO (World Health Organization) described that free sugars are all refined sugars added to edible items by the manufacturer, cook, or the consumer. They also include sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices, and concentrates.

  • Energy from fats should contribute to less than 30 % of total energy intake. It is suggested that the saturated fats intake should be equal to less than 10 % of total energy intake and of trans fats to less than 1 % of total energy intake.

Unsaturated fats of fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola, and olive oils are preferred over saturated fats of fatty meat, butter, palm oil and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee, lard; and different types of transfats like industrially-produced transfats of baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and food products; and animal or natural transfats of meat and dairy food items. Industrially-produced transfats, mainly, should be kept away.

  • Every day less than 5 g of salt, preferably iodized salt, should be consumed.

What Is a Healthy Diet for Infants and Young Children?

An optimal diet in the first two years of an infant leads to proper growth and cerebral development. It also prevents the young one from obesity and conditions like diabetes in later stages of life. Besides all other suggestions for a healthy diet, the diet of infants and children should include the following:

  • The infants should be breastfed exclusively during the first six months, and breastfeeding should be continued until two years of age and beyond.

  • Besides breast milk from six months of age, appropriate nutritious foods should be added to the diet without salt and sugar.

What Does WHO Advice on Maintaining a Healthy Diet?

For maintaining a healthy diet, the following should be considered:

  • Eating a minimum of 400 g of fruits and vegetables each day decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases and guarantees an adequate daily intake of fiber-rich food.

  • Fiber-rich food intake can be enhanced by eating fresh, seasonal, and different types of fruits and vegetables. Fruits can be eaten in between meals and also as snacks. Vegetables can be consumed as raw snacks and cooked or baked during meals.

  • Fat intake, specifically saturated fat, and industrially-produced trans fats intake can be reduced by:

  1. Preparing the recipes by steaming, boiling, or baking the ingredients.
  2. Instead of ghee, butter, and similar products, polyunsaturated cooking oils like canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, etc.
  3. Consuming low-fat dairy products and eliminating visible fats from meat.
  4. Avoiding or restricting the consumption of packaged or ready-made food items and those containing industrially-produced transfats.
  • Usually, people consume a high amount of salt as a part of their daily diet (9 to 12 g per day), but their potassium intake is primarily low (less than 3.5 g). The high sodium intake leads to hypertension and further causes problems like cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
  • Often, people do not pay heed to their daily salt intake. A check on the daily intake of salt can be kept by:

  1. Restricting the amount of salt and high-sodium savories like soy sauce, fish sauce, etc., during food preparation.
  2. Keeping the table salt or high-sodium seasonings away.
  3. Limiting or avoiding salty snacks; and
  4. Incorporating products with lower sodium content in the diet.
  5. Before purchasing food items, particularly packaged or ready-to-eat foods, the product should be selected after checking its label for the salt content.
  • Potassium acts in contrast to sodium, so to avoid adverse effects of high sodium intake, consumption of potassium can be increased by eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Having a lot of free sugars also leads to an increased incidence of dental caries. Obesity or being overweight is another consequence of high sugar intake. The latest research and reports also reveal the negative influence of free sugars on blood pressure and serum lipids and advise that a low intake of free sugars further decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Sugar intake can be limited by:

  1. Avoiding or restricting the consumption of food items containing high amounts of sugars, such as sugary snacks, candies, and sugar-sweetened beverages (all types of carbonated or non‐carbonated soft drinks, fruit or vegetable juices and drinks, liquid and powder concentrates, flavored water, energy and sports drinks, ready‐to‐drink tea, ready‐to‐drink coffee, and flavored milk drinks); and

  2. Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks.


It is imperative that a healthy diet should be taken to adapt to the changing lifestyle of folks of all ages, and the various recommendations given by WHO should be followed sincerely. A healthy diet according to the individual’s needs will provide the required nutrition and also will help in coping with lifestyle issues.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Role Does Who Have in Nutrition?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) concentrates on the health sector and has an important role in providing healthy nutrition to people all over the world. WHO advises maintaining and promoting a healthy diet. The Department of Nutrition and Food Safety by WHO supports the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of various nutritional policies and programs.


How Does Who Describe Nutritional Status?

International child growth standards published by WHO serve as criteria for comparing the nutritional status of children within and across different regions and countries across the world. Nutritional status is the intake of nutrients and their expenditure in growth, reproduction, and health.


Who Proposed a Food Group Plan?

The food group plan was proposed by the Nutrition Expert Group of the Indian Council of Medical Research. A five-food group plan was suggested along with nutrients supplied by each group. The food groups include cereals, milk groups, fruits, vegetables, fats, and oils.


Which Health Professional Is a Nutrition Expert?

A nutritionist is a certified healthcare professional who concentrates on the management of food and nutrition of the client to attain good health and as well as to manage any conditions. They prepare nutrition-based guidelines specifically for their clients and based on lab tests and diagnosis they can prescribe diet and supplements.


What Are the Types of Nutrition Given by WHO?

The types of nutrition for the human body are:
- Macronutrients: The nutrients required by the body in large amounts are macronutrients. It includes carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and water.
- Micronutrients: The nutrients required by the body in small amounts are micronutrients. It includes vitamins and minerals.


What Is the BMI Range Recommended by Who?

The ideal body mass index (BMI) range recommended by WHO is 18.5-24.9 and the weight of a person in this range of BMI is considered normal. It is calculated by dividing the person’s weight in kilograms by the square of the person's height in meters. A person with BMI less than 18.5 is considered underweight and above 25 is considered pre-obese, while a person with BMI above 30 is considered obese according to WHO.


What Are the Five Ways to Prevent Malnutrition?

Five ways to prevent malnutrition are:
- Improving healthcare systems.
- Educating the public about the importance of nutrition.
- Making sure that insurance policies improve nutrition.
- Providing all people access to essential nutritional interventions.
- Early detection and treatment of malnutrition.


What Are the Stages of Malnutrition Given by Who?

According to WHO, malnutrition is divided into three categories;
- Undernutrition: Low weight and or height for height and or age.
- Micronutrient deficiency: Deficiency of vitamins and minerals
- Overnutrition: Being overweight or obese and having other diet-related medical conditions.


What Is Public Health Nutrition?

Public health nutrition is a field of public health that aims at promoting good health through nutrition and preventing illness that occurs due to nutritional deficiency in the population. Many activities and programs have been conducted in the past and as well as currently that involve public health nutrition.


What Is Nutritional Assessment?

Nutritional assessment is defined as a systemic process of evaluating the existing status and nutritional risk in the future. It involves collecting and analyzing information to make decisions about nutrition-related issues.


What Is a Nutrition Journal?

The nutritional journal encompasses the education, research, and prevalence of nutritional-related diseases as well as methods to improve nutrition in the population. It also focuses on the prevention of diseases that occur due to nutritional deficiencies.


What Is the Importance of Nutrition?

Nutrition plays a major role in health and development. Better nutrition in society improves child and maternal health and can make the immune system more efficient. Good nutrition with physical activity can prevent many lifestyle diseases.


What Is the Impact Factor of Public Health Nutrition?

According to the 2022 report, the impact factor of public health nutrition is 4.539. The impact factor is defined as the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been referred to in a year.
Sonal Jain
Sonal Jain



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