In the past couple of decades, evidence from prospective observational studies and clinical trials has converged to support the importance of individual nutrients, foods, and dietary patterns in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. The quality of dietary fats and carbohydrates consumed is more crucial than is the quantity of these macronutrients. Diets rich in wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol consumption; and lower in refined grains, red or processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and improve glycaemic control and blood lipids in patients with diabetes. With an emphasis on overall diet quality, several dietary patterns such as Mediterranean, low glycaemic index, moderately low carbohydrate, and vegetarian diets can be tailored to personal and cultural food preferences and appropriate calorie needs for weight control and diabetes prevention and management. Although much progress has been made in development and implementation of evidence-based nutrition recommendations in developed countries, concerted worldwide efforts and policies are warranted to alleviate regional disparities.