Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in most developed nations and is rapidly increasing in prevalence in developing countries. Death rates from cardiovascular disease exceed 1 million annually in the United States and account for the largest disease-related cost to health with total costs estimated to exceed $120 billion per annum. Many dietary factors, including total and saturated fat consumption, fruit and vegetable intake and dietary fiber, have been shown to contribute to risk for CHD. We have systematically reviewed literature from the past 20 years evaluating an association between dietary fiber and CHD. Foods that are rich in dietary fiber, including fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grain cereals, also tend to be a rich source of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals. antioxidants and other micronutrients. Each of these factors may be independently contributing to the cardiovascular protective effects of fiber-rich foods.