Evidence from prospective cohort studies indicates that a high consumption of plant-based foods such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains is associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary artery disease and stroke. The protective effects of these foods are probably mediated through multiple beneficial nutrients contained in these foods, including mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, n-3 fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, and plant protein. In dietary practice, healthy plant-based diets do not necessarily have to be low in fat. Instead, these diets should include unsaturated fats as the predominant form of dietary fat (eg, fats from natural liquid vegetable oils and nuts), whole grains as the main form of carbohydrate, an abundance of fruit and vegetables, and adequate n-3 fatty acids. Such diets, which also have many other health benefits, deserve more emphasis in dietary recommendations to prevent chronic diseases.