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I've been tasked with copy-editing some text that includes the following:

[...] makes it easy for you to cook with the maximum nutrition.

I'm unsure about the correctness of the phrase "maximum nutrition". I've always considered nutrition (in this kind of context) to be of a qualitative nature where "good nutrition" refers to a good balance of nutrients in a meal or diet and "bad nutrition" the opposite.

"Maximum nutrition", though, seems to treat nutrition as a quantitative concept, implying that more nutrition is better which doesn't seem right.

Is there a definitive answer to the question of whether nutrition should be considered qualitative or quantitative in the context of health/diet-focused writing, and is the concept of "maximum nutrition" a valid one?

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  • It sounds odd to me, too, but I haven't a definitive answer for you.
    – PellMel
    Mar 30, 2016 at 16:17
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    whfoods.org gives an example of the use of 'maximum' with two nouns referring to two concepts which may be regarded as 'semi-quantifiable' or 'orderable' (this diet is more nutritious/enjoyable than that): The Healthiest Way of Eating is eating for maximum nutrition and enjoyment. Ordering is quite common where a well-defined scale would be difficult to establish (tiredness / alertness / happiness / wellness etc). There are a lot of Google Hits for "maximum nutrition", but many of them are for the proper noun. Mar 30, 2016 at 16:25
  • The "the" makes this phrase more awkward. "cook with maximum nutrition" is more natural.
    – MetaEd
    Mar 30, 2016 at 16:28

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According to the dictionary definition, nutrition is

: the process of eating the right kind of food so you can grow properly and be healthy

: the act or process of nourishing or being nourished; specifically : the sum of the processes by which an animal or plant takes in and utilizes food substances

source: m-w.com

With that definition in mind, the idea of maximizing nutrition can be justified: you want to get the most possible nourishment from a given item, or you want to consume items that give you the most nourishment.

However, cooking with maximum nutrition doesn't make sense; you don't gain nourishment from the act of cooking. Instead, you want to cook for maximum nutrition.

(Speaking anecdotally, I would say that normally I would expect to hear "maximum nutritional value" instead of "maximum nutrition.")

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