Inadequate levels of calcium and potassium intake have long been associated with higher blood pressures. Epidemiologic data have suggested these associations and many clinical trials have indicated causal relationships. However, the intervention data are plagued with inconsistent study designs, populations, and results, and there remain many questions regarding dietary recommendations of these nutrients for cardiovascular health. Until recently, nutrition research focused on single-nutrient interventions, generally with disparate results. Recognizing that nutrients are not consumed individually but as combined constituents of a varied diet, efforts in this area have shifted to the role of the overall diet, or dietary patterns, in blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. The suggestions of epidemiologic surveys nearly two decades ago that the total diet has a greater influence on cardiovascular health than do specific components, are now being borne out by randomized controlled trials demonstrating this effect. From these dietary pattern studies, it has become increasingly clear that it is not merely excesses of single nutrients but also deficiencies of multiple nutrients in combination, such as calcium and potassium, that have the greatest dietary effects on cardiovascular health. Several risk factors for cardiovascular disease have now been shown to be reduced with diets that meet the current recommended dietary guidelines, ie, that provide appropriate levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and macronutrients. In addition, new data indicate that regular consumption of these diets is associated with decreased mortality. Adequate intake of minerals such as calcium and potassium-specifically derived from foods, where they coexist with other essential nutrients-contributes to cardiovascular as well as overall health.