10 Great Free Online Courses for Nutrition – Online Course Report

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Never in history have we discussed diet, health, and nutrition as much as we do today. People are more aware than ever about the complex relationship between what they eat and how they feel. As a result, jobs in the emerging field of nutrition are in higher demand than ever, and those with passion and the right skills have the chance to forge a career they love.

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Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.

In this article, we will cover the best 10 free online courses in nutrition followed by some questions and answers. Ranked in descending order with number 10 as our top choice, we utilized a specific methodology to review each offering. Whether you are interested in a career in the field or you want to learn how to keep yourself and others healthy by becoming knowledgeable about all things related to food and health, read on to see how.

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 Ranking 10 Great Free Online Courses for Nutrition

1. Diploma in Human Nutrition-Revised

Offered by Alison

alison logo primary

This free course through Alison is taught by Brian Linshield, Associate Professor at Kansas State University. It is part of Alison’s diploma program, a more comprehensive learning path that offers a free certificate and assessment.

Taken by over 100,000 students, Human Nutrition-Revised is an academic third-level course that covers topics like:

• Phytochemicals, Zoochemicals, and Functional Foods

• Digestion, Absorption, Elimination, and Protection

• Introduction to Lipids

• Protein Synthesis, Structure, and Functions

• Introduction to Macronutrient Metabolism

• Introduction to Vitamins and Minerals

Thorough and part of the Fundamentals of Nursing courses on the Alison Platform, the free online nutrition course is well worth a look.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: 10-15 hours

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Taught by a passionate instructor

• One of the only free courses where you can receive a certificate at no extra charge

• Engaging, goals-based interface

Cons:

• The title is misleading, as students don’t actually receive a diploma

 

2. Nutrition: Vitamins and Minerals

Offered by OpenLearn

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OpenLearn is an online learning platform offered by The Open University. Established in 2006 by the Royal Charter of England and Wales, it is a charitable institution with a commitment to deliver an easy-to-navigate learning experience to anyone. The site has over 900 short courses ranging in duration from one to 100 hours and hundreds of videos, audios, games, quizzes, and articles.

In the Nutrition: Vitamins and Minerals course, students will learn about the major minerals and two main vitamin groups. Upon completion, you should know:

• What minerals are required by the body

• How important sodium, calcium, chloride ions, and potassium are to maintaining homeostasis

• More about enzymes and hormones and their relationship to vitamins and minerals

• How fluid balance is vital for normal functioning

• The composition of tap water

The free nutrition online course is ideal for anyone who wants to explore the vitamin and mineral components of nutrition, as it goes into detail about each one. When you have finished, you will receive a free statement of participation that proves you have taken part in the course.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Free statement of participation

Time to Complete: ten hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• A course progress bar lets you see how you are doing

• Work at your own pace

• Excellent user experience

Cons:

• Statement of participation is not a formal qualification

3. Starter Nutrition Course

Offered by The Health Sciences Academy

The Health Sciences Academy offers this free online nutrition course as a way to introduce users to their more robust paid platform. However, it’s worth a look for anyone interested in wellness, diet, and nutrition.

There are six modules in this short course, during which you will complete exercises, listen to lectures, read some materials, and take quizzes. Completing the course earns you a certificate that can be displayed on your LinkedIn page, CV or resume, so it’s well worth it to take a few hours to complete it if you want another notch in your career belt.

Although the free online course in nutrition is designed for beginners, it will give you a basic overview of nutrition concepts, beginning with an introductory session that includes a questionnaire, a welcome bonus, three practical assignments, an optional reference list, and a quiz. From there, you will move on to:

• Components of a Balanced Diet

• Energy, Nutrition, and Food Labels

• Superfoods

• A TED Talk by Jamie Oliver

• Final Quiz

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: 3-6 hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Download and print the course for your own reference

• Free certificate of completion

• Sign up and start right away

Cons:

• The website is sometimes slow to load

 

4. Human Nutrition – Introduction to Macronutrients – Revised

Offered by Alison

alison logo primary

This five-star reviewed class has been taken by over 15,000 people and is a perfect introductory course to macronutrients. The class is condensed and takes just one to two hours but covers a lot of material that can be helpful for anyone. There are three modules covering lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates, as well as a course assessment at the end.

The course can be taken for free on the Alison platform, and you will earn a shareable certificate upon successful completion.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: One to two hours

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Goals-oriented learning

• Taught by an experienced and knowledgeable instructor

• Well-reviewed by former students

Cons:

• Too short

 

5. Introduction to Nutrition and Food Safety

Offered by The University of Taipei on Future Learn

Future learn

Future Learn is an online platform offering an array of courses from institutions and universities all over the world. The company believes that learning should be a fun, social experience, and they provide the opportunity to connect with your fellow students for class discussions. There are three ways to access Future Learn. You can take free courses, upgrade to a premium option that will award a certificate or get an unlimited membership that gives you access to any session for an entire year.

In this free Introduction to Nutrition and Food Safety Course, you will learn the impact of one’s diet on their overall health, problems caused by poor dietary choices, and how to identify food additives that are harmful to the body. Each course on Future Course has a set start date, but once the classes have begun, you can jump in at any time. The suggested time for completion is four weeks at two hours each week.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Eight hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Accessible on both desktop and mobile

• Great user interface

• Has a social component to interact with other students

Cons:

• There may be a waiting period before your course begins

6. Nutrition and Cancer

Offered by Wageningen University and Research through edX

edX Logo R Black

Cofounded by Harvard and MIT, edX is an online learning platform offering thousands of classes from some of the top-rated universities in the world. More than 70 million people have enrolled in courses through edX, and they offer some of the best free online nutrition courses you will find.

The Nutrition and Cancer course is exactly what it sounds like and is intended to give students an overview of the relationship between cancer and the foods we eat. It covers WCRF/IARC evidence-based guidelines for preventing cancer, the interaction between genes and nutrition, and lifestyle and dietary recommendations for cancer survivors.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Five weeks

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Accessible on both desktop and mobile

• The only MOOC provider that is open source as well as non-profit

• Over 17,000 students have taken the course

Cons:

• Certification is part of the paid component of the program

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7. Child Nutrition and Cooking

Offered by Stanford through Coursera

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Coursera offers thousands of online courses from major universities in an array of subjects. While the platform does have a paywall if you want to access graded assignments and certificates, all of the courses can be audited free of charge.

Child Nutrition and Cooking is one of several nutrition offerings on the site. Presented by Stanford University and taught by Maya Adam, MD, there are five modules focusing on:

• The childhood obesity epidemic

• What constitutes a balanced meal

• Shopping, cooking healthy meals, and packing lunches

• Sustainable eating (including how to get kids excited about gardening)

• Food allergies, nutrition labels, and taste

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: nine hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Taught by a Stanford lecturer

• Reset deadlines to fit your schedule

• Excellent user experience

Cons:

• Certificate is an additional fee

8. Food as Medicine

Offered by Monash University at Future Learn

Future learn

Here is another excellent course offered at Future Learn by Monash University that digs into the relationship between health and nutrition. During the free online nutrition course, you will use nutritional science to help navigate a path for using food as medicine. You will learn about

• The history of food being used as medicine

• Phytochemicals, micronutrients, macronutrients, and antioxidants

• The relationship between food and the gut/brain connection

• The role of nutrition in pregnancy and fertility

• Food and our genome

The courses on Future Learn have set start dates, so you will need to check ahead to see when yours begins. If a class has already started, you can join and jump right in, catching up as you go along. Future Learn is based in the UK and offers some of the top free nutrition courses online. Additionally, there are no fees to take this course, and it only takes about three weeks if you progress at the recommended four hours per week.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 12 hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Accessible on tablet, desktop, and mobile

• Excellent user interface

• Interact with fellow students on the platform

Cons:

• There may be a waiting period before your course begins

9. Nutrition and Health: Human Microbiome

Offered by Wageningen University and Research through edX

edX Logo R Black

The relationship between gut biome and one’s health is emerging as one of the most important discoveries in the field of nutrition over the past decade. In this course at edX, you will learn how to balance your gut health to avoid disorders like IBS, diabetes, and obesity. Health care professionals and individuals can apply this knowledge to use in their work and daily lives.

The free online course in nutrition covers:

• Studying the microbiome

• The impact microbiota has on one’s health

• Microbiota and healthy aging

• Genes, diet, and microbiota

• Microbial diagnosis and therapies

• The importance of understanding the microbiome for policy-makers, organizations, and the health care industry

The course can be taken for free on the edX platform, with an option to purchase a shareable certificate for $49 upon completion.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Six weeks

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Accessible on a tablet, desktop, and mobile

• The only MOOC provider that is non-profit and open-source

• Completed by almost 30,000 students

Cons:

• Certification is part of the paid component of the program

10. Diet & Nutrition Coach Certification: Create Diet Plans, Coach Others & Build Your Business

Offered by Skillshare

SKILLSHARE Social

This comprehensive certification course offered through Skillshare will start you on the path to becoming a wellness coach. It’s comprehensive, but short, consisting of 71 lessons packed into a little over three hours. The classes will teach you about:

• Nutrition theory: Macronutrients, micronutrients, and calories

• Helping your clients get fit and build muscle

• All the major diet trends explained (gluten-free, paleo, vegan, ketogenic, etc.)

• Vitamins and minerals

• Supplements

The class is designed for those who want to coach others on becoming fit and healthy or for anyone interested in nutrition. Suitable for beginners or more experienced students, it provides an excellent overview of nutrition and how to plan a balanced dietary plan.

To access the free online nutrition course, you will need to sign up for a Skillshare Premium account. However, you can utilize the company’s two-month free trial period to take this and other courses at no cost. There are dozens of other nutrition courses available on the platform. Just be sure to cancel before the trial period is up.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: ten hours

Curriculum: Introductory to Intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Taught by fitness coach and Amazon best-selling author Felix Harder

• Short and condensed

• Study anywhere and anytime

Cons:

• Must cancel the subscription before the two-month trial period ends to avoid being charged a fee.

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Online Nutrition Courses

The science of nutrition is fascinating and potentially lucrative for those interested in a career in this field. Whether you are just dipping your toes in the water or you are looking to acquire some new knowledge, taking some free nutrition courses is a terrific idea. With so many MOOCs (massive open online courses) offered these days, it’s easier than ever to find something to fit your niche.

Most people have a lot of questions about how taking free nutrition classes works. In this section, we will try to answer a few of the most pressing queries.

Who Takes Free Online Nutrition Courses?

Anyone who wants to! If you are in the field and looking to gain a better understanding of a particular topic, they can be invaluable. If you wish to explore career paths in the health and nutrition industry, free courses are great for that too.

Some people want to learn how to coach others on fitness and nutrition, and in many places, this designation does not require a degree. Free classes can help these entrepreneurs acquire marketable skills to grow their businesses.

Finally, many individuals simply want to become a healthier version of themselves, and the best free online nutrition classes can help them do this in a more structured way than reading a book will.

What Are the Requirements and Prerequisites?

Enrolling in a free introductory nutrition course does not require any previous training, although you should feel comfortable with basic computer skills. If you want to take an intermediate course, you might want to have some fundamentals of nutrition under your belt already. Usually, there are no age requirements to participate, and most are available anywhere in the world. Some of the classes on our list are even subtitled in other languages for more global accessibility.

Will I Earn College Credits by Taking an MOOC?

Most of the free online courses in nutrition are not accredited, and you won’t earn college credits. However, there are a few exceptions. Most notably, The Health Science Academy Course on our list is a free accredited online nutrition course that has CPD Certification Service, and it carries both UK and international recognition. Additionally, in some edX courses, users can occasionally earn college credit. You would need to check with your own school to find out the details.

How Long Do Free Online Courses Take?

Most online courses in nutrition are self-paced, and the time it takes to complete each one depends on your schedule and level of initiative. Lessons can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to complete.

Are Free Online Courses Graded?

While most free courses are not graded manually, many have multiple-choice quizzes that are ranked by the computer. Often you can take these several times if you don’t pass right away. If the course you are interested in offers a paid component for certification, sometimes a final graded exam will be administered. You may even have the chance to work with your fellow students and evaluate each other’s work. Often, there is a capstone project behind the paywall that may be graded as well.

Are There Specific Start Times for Free Online Nutrition Classes?

There are typically no start and stop times with online classes; however, courses on the Future Learn platform are time-specific. You will need to sign up in advance or jump in once the program has started. Once it is over, you have to wait for the next session to participate. Sometimes, lessons and quizzes will be timed to keep students on track.

In general, one of the best parts of online learning is being able to study whenever and wherever you want.

The Course I Want to Take Is Supposed to Be Free. Why Is There a Fee?

On some platforms, graded components of a course or certificates of completion are hidden behind a paywall. Free trials or membership sites are an example of this style. Several MOOC’s offer both paid and free components:

Paid courses provide access to exclusive content such as capstone projects, certificates of completion, or graded exams.

Free courses usually permit free auditing of all the materials, including videos, audios, e-books, and quizzes.

Unless you must have a completion certificate, investing in the paywalled components of a class is purely optional. The exception to this is with free trial programs. If you don’t want to pay, you need to remember to cancel your membership before the deadline.

If you need a certificate and can’t afford to pay, it’s worth noting that some platforms offer financial aid, discounts, or scholarships.

Are Free Nutrition Courses Worth It?

Definitely! Nutrition affects everyone, regardless of who they are, so gaining some knowledge about the foods you eat and how they impact your health is a win/win no matter what your main goal is.

If breaking into the field of nutrition is your objective, taking some free courses before you invest in costly coursework will give you an idea of whether it is a career path you want to pursue. And if you are already in the nutrition industry, taking some new nutrition classes can help you brush up on your current skillset.

OCR Staff

Updated March 2020

Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.

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