We assessed the effect of a diet high in leafy and green vegetables, fruit, and nuts on serum lipid risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Ten healthy volunteers (seven men and three women aged 33 +/- 4 years [mean +/- SEM]; body mass index, 23 +/- 1 kg/m2) consumed their habitual diet (control diet, 29% +/- 2% fat calories) and a diet consisting largely of leafy and other low-calorie vegetables, fruit, and nuts (vegetable diet, 25% +/- 3% fat calories) for two 2-week periods in a randomized crossover design. After 2 weeks on the vegetable diet, lipid risk factors for cardiovascular disease were significantly reduced by comparison with the control diet (low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol, 33% +/- 4%, P < .001; ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol, 21% +/- 4%, P < .001; apolipoprotein [apo] B:A-I, 23% +/- 2%, P < .001; and lipoprotein (a) [Lp(a)], 24% +/- 9%, P = .031). The reduction in apo B was related to increased intakes of soluble fiber (r = .84, P = .003) and vegetable protein (r = -.65, P = .041). On the vegetable compared with the control diet, the reduction in total serum cholesterol was 34% to 49% greater than would be predicted by differences in dietary fat and cholesterol. A diet consisting largely of low-calorie vegetables and fruit and nuts markedly reduced lipid risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Several aspects of such diets, which may have been consumed early in human evolution, have implications for cardiovascular disease prevention.