The Asia-Pacific region is undergoing a major change in both food and health patterns, with a connection between the two more than likely. Evidence for certain traditional Asia-Pacific foods as protective agents against chronic non-communicable disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD), in particular, is growing at a time when their usage diminishes. The nature of the evidence to establish relevant Asia-Pacific food-health linkages will include randomised placebo-controlled clinical trials, but is much more extensive and meaningful. Okinawans have probably achieved one of the most successful food cultures from a health point of view and serve as a reference point for the Asia-Pacific region. The expert working party has produced, in November 2000, the 'Okinawan Recommendations on Nutrition and CVD in the Asia-Pacific region'.