Epidemiologic evidence of a protective role for fruits and vegetables in cancer prevention is substantial. The strength of this scientific base guides US national policymaking in diet and health issues and facilitates community and local programs that address national dietary goals to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Current scientific evidence also suggests a protective role for fruits and vegetables in prevention of coronary heart disease, and evidence is accumulating for a protective role in stroke. In addition, a new scientific base is emerging to support a protective role for fruits and vegetables in prevention of cataract formation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diverticulosis, and possibly, hypertension. This article provides an overview of the health benefits associated with fruit and vegetable consumption for each of these conditions, including brief discussions of underlying protective mechanisms, identifies key scientific findings regarding the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption, and outlines applications of these findings for dietetics professionals. The evidence reviewed provides additional support for increased consumption of a wide variety of vegetables, in particular, dark-green leafy, cruciferous, and deep-yellow-orange ones, and a wide variety of fruits, in particular, citrus and deep-yellow-orange ones. Continued attention to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is a practical and important way to optimize nutrition to reduce disease risk and maximize good health.