Healthful, healthy, wholesome, salubrious, salutary, hygienic, sanitary are comparable when they mean conducive or beneficial to the health or soundness of body or mind.
Healthful is more common than healthy as the term carrying this sense (see also HEALTHY 2 ), but the two are often interchangeable.
Wholesome (see also HEALTHY 2 ) is a more homely word than healthful that is typically perfectly interchangeable with the latter, but wholesome is the one of these words that may also be used in a much weakened sense to mean not detrimental to health or well-being.
Salubrious applies chiefly to climate or to air that is pleasantly invigorating yet devoid of harshness or extremes.
Salutary implies a tonic, corrective, or similarly beneficial effectiveness; often it is applied to something that is in itself unpleasant.
Hygienic suggests reference to the means and the rules of promoting physical or mental health, especially of the public. The term therefore commonly implies use of approved means or obedience to approved rules because they are conducive to health.
Sanitary implies reference to measures taken or that can be taken to guard against infections or conditions that promote disease. The term therefore usually implies the promotion of health, especially public health, through interference with causes that bring about disease or epidemics.
Sanitary is sometimes used in place of healthful but with a stronger emphasis upon effectiveness.