Nutritional Sciences

All programs in the Department of Nutritional Sciences help students train to become leaders in nutrition who are able to integrate the span of knowledge from molecules to organisms to populations with the goal of improving human health.

The Department of Nutritional Sciences offers a breadth of educational, research, and experiential opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students that provide them with the foundational knowledge and skills to pursue careers in research, pre-professional, industry, food systems management, and community settings.

Nutritional Sciences Academic Programs

Undergraduate Program in Nutritional Sciences

Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences

Graduate Program in Nutrition Receives National Ranking

Recently released results from the National Research Council ranks the Penn State Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences among the nation's best.


  • Fatty acids may lead to first heart failure treatments According to Gregory Shearer, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, over half of all heart failure diagnoses are diastolic heart failure. In a National Institutes of Health-funded project, Shearer and others from the University of Minnesota and the University of Rochester Medical Center, are studying omega-3 fatty acids and their use in preventing and treating a certain type of heart failure.
  • Eating peanuts may lead to supple arteries and healthy hearts Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, and colleagues, found that eating peanuts with a meal may help protect against cardiovascular diseases which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
  • Drinking beer may be good for heart health Shue Huang, a doctoral candidate in nutritional sciences, and colleagues found that moderate drinkers had the slowest decline in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or the "good" cholesterol, levels. A moderate level of drinking for men is one to two drinks per day, and for women a half to one drink per day.
  • Keep an eye on children's calories, researchers say Researchers in the Department of Nutritional Sciences found that caregivers can lower the calorie density (CD) of children's meals by choosing palatable lower-CD, commercially available products, such as un-breaded, grilled chicken pieces and reduced-sugar applesauce.
  • Green tea and iron, bad combination Green tea is touted for its many health benefits as a powerful antioxidant, but experiments in a laboratory mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease suggest that consuming green tea along with dietary iron may actually lessen green tea's benefits.
The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet
  • Low zinc levels may suggest potential breast-feeding problems Zinc levels in breast milk may be able to serve as an indicator of breast function during lactation. In previous studies, Shannon L. Kelleher and colleagues found that the protein ZnT2 is critical for secreting zinc into breast milk, and women who have mutations in the gene that encodes ZnT2 have substantially lower milk zinc levels, leading to severe zinc deficiency in exclusively breast-fed infants.
  • Gut bacteria may be to blame for obesity and diabetes An excess of bacteria in the gut can change the way the liver processes fat and could lead to the development of metabolic syndrome.
  • Health and Human Development recognizes teaching in excellence in Nutritional Sciences
    The College of Health and Human Development (HHD) values excellence in teaching. Through a review of Student Rating of Teaching Effectiveness scores, student comments and input from others in HHD, the Teaching Excellence Award recognizes some of our best faculty for their hard work and dedication to undergraduate teaching and learning.
  • Increasing the amount of omega-3s in diet will likely decrease risk of heart disease
    Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential for human health, but the body does not produce them -- therefore they must be consumed in order to maintain appropriate levels. Increasing the amount of omega-3s in your diet, whether from fish or flax, will likely decrease your risk of getting heart disease, according to Penn State nutritionists.
  • Bacterial product could cure viral infections, scientists say
    Specifically, in findings published in the Nov. 14 issue of Science, the researchers described that activation of the innate immune system with the bacterial protein flagellin could prevent and cure rotavirus infection, which is amongst the most common causes of severe diarrhea. Matam Vijay-Kumar, assistant professor, co-authored the study.
  • Nearly 70 percent of NUTR students placed into post-baccalaureate internships
    Acceptance rates into dietetic internships is higher than the national average.
    Nutritional Sciences (NUTR) students had a 69.4 percent acceptance rate into dietetic internships for the fall 2013 and spring 2014 application periods, exceeding those terms’ goals, and marking the second time in the last five years that acceptance rates hovered around 70 percent. Out of 72 applicants, 50 were matched.
  • Eating lean beef daily can help lower blood pressure
    Contrary to conventional wisdom, a growing body of evidence shows that eating lean beef can reduce risk factors for heart disease, according to recent research by nutritional scientists."This research adds to the significant evidence, including work previously done in our lab, that supports lean beef's role in a heart-healthy diet," said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State. "This study shows that nutrient-rich lean beef can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet that reduces blood pressure, which can help lower the risk for cardiovascular disease."

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