Rapid economic development in China is accelerating the dietary shift towards a ‘‘western diet”, which is accelerating the epidemic of obesity and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. This review aims to provide insights into the diet and nutritional status related to cardiovascular diseases and away-from-home food intake behavior, which make a healthy diet hard to control in contemporary China. The data summarized in this review come from the National Survey of Nutrition and Health Status of 2002. In general, the current Chinese diet is characterized as high in sodium, low in fruits and vegetable intake, and low in calcium, potassium, and magnesium intake. In addition, areas of different levels of economic development throughout China show a complex dietary and nutritional distribution. There was no area where the diet and nutritional status would make the residents free of cardiovascular risk. Residents in less developed rural areas, have a higher daily intake of animal oil and dietary sodium, and a lesser intake of calcium. Residents in developed urban areas consume a remarkably higher percentage of calories from fat, e.g., 38.4% in large-sized cities. At present among urban people, the average potassium and magnesium intake is remarkably lower than the recommended levels. In addition, a significantly high proportion of young adults in urban areas eat meals away-from-home, which exposes them to an unhealthy diet of increased calories from fat especially saturated fat, more sodium, and lower in fiber and calcium. To deal with the unhealthy diets, there is an urgent need to develop targeted strategies and measures, that match levels of economic development and local customs.