The Science of Nutrition


a free, open-access course in diet & nutrition

In the first section of the course, we introduce the science of nutrition and understand what it can do for us.

We start familiarizing with nutrients, food categories and food composition.

Finally, we look at food consumption and availability from an evolutionary perspective.

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of each lesson

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1.1    Welcome!

Welcome to Nutrition Steps, a free, open-access, introductory course in diet and human nutrition

1.2    The “science” of nutrition

First of all, a few tools to be able to be more objective when faced with new information concerning diet, food and nutrition

1.3    The key principles of nutrition

Designing a balanced healthful diet is not as complicated as many people believe...

1.4    Preventing deficiencies

The role of nutrition in preventing deficiencies and suboptimal intakes of energy, proteins, and many other essential nutrients

1.5    Avoiding excesses

The major diet-related risks today are largely different than what they were in the past, at least in our rich post-industrialized countries

1.6    Promoting optimal health and preventing disease

The goal of a balanced diet is not just preventing deficiencies and avoiding excesses.

There's a lot more that we can ask...

1.7    What is a nutrient?

The energetic, structural and regulatory functions of nutrients

1.8    A brief survey of nutrients

A few facts about macronutrients, micronutrients and phytochemicals

1.9    Nutrient requirements

We have learned that we need to get about 40 nutrients from food in order to sustain life. But how much do we need of them?

1.10  Nutrient composition of foods 

A few calculations to familiarize with nutrition facts panels and nutrient composition tables.

Link to assignment

1.11  From nutrients to food

A brief nutritional survey of the major food groups

1.12  From food back to nutrients: the digestive process

To be able to use nutrients, the first task that our body has to accomplish is extracting them from the food we eat. Here's how it happens

1.13  Ancient genes in modern times: an evolutionary perspective

Our dietary habits and our environment have profoundly changed very fast very recently. But our genes haven't kept pace...

1.14  Old, new and different food

Think of the foods we find today in any grocery store. How many of them do you think our ancestor the caveman would recognize? And without going that far back, how many do you think your grandmother’s grandmother would recognize?