OBJECTIVE: Smoking serves different functions for men and women. Thus, we wanted to investigate the association between smoking behaviour and intakes of selected healthy foods in men and women with special focus on differences and similarities between the two genders. DESIGN: In 1993-1997, a random sample of 80 996 men and 79 729 women aged 50-64 y was invited to participate in the study 'Diet, Cancer and Health'. In all, 27 179 men and 29 876 women attended a health examination and completed a 192-item food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). The association between smoking status and low, median and high intakes of selected foods was examined among 25 821 men and 28 596 women. SETTING: The greater Copenhagen and Aarhus area, Denmark. RESULTS: For both men and women, smoking status group was associated with diet, such that increasing level of smoking status ranging from never smokers over ex-smokers to currently heavy smokers was associated with a lower intake of the healthy foods: fresh fruit, cooked vegetables, raw vegetables/salad, and olive oil. For wine, increasing level of smoking status category was associated with a higher fraction of abstainers and heavy drinkers. The difference between the extreme smoking status categories was larger than the difference between men and women within smoking status categories such that never smoking men in general had a higher intake of healthy foods than heavy smoking women. Correction for age, educational level, and body mass index (BMI) did not affect the results. CONCLUSION: In this middle-aged population, intake of healthy foods were associated with smoking behaviour with a dose-response type of relationship. The overall pattern was similar for men and women.