Healthy vs Healthful

This was something that I learnt in school but still struggle with because the wrong usage is so pervasive in what I read on a day to day basis.  I often read articles saying, "this is a healthy diet" when it should be "this is a healthful diet".

The words healthy and healthful are closely related but they really mean different things.  Healthy refers to something having good health.  Hence, you can have a healthy body or a healthy business. 

Healthful, however, refers to something that is conducive to health – in other words, salubrious (or health giving).

Thus, a diet cannot be healthy because a diet cannot have bad health.  A person, on the other hand, can have good or bad health and hence a good diet is healthful, and it makes the person healthy.

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