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In this essay we present analysis examining the basic dietary structure and its relationship to mortality in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) conducted between 1971 and 1975. We used results from 24-hour recalls on 10,483 individuals in this study. All of the indivduals in the analytic sample were followed through 1992 for vital status. The mean follow-up period for the participants was 16 years. During follow-up 2,042 (48%) males and 1,754 (27%) females died. We first attempted to capture the inherent structure of the dietary data using principal components analyses (PCA). We performed this estimation separately for each race (white and black) and gender (male and female) and compared the estimated principal components among these four strata. We found that the principal components were similar (but not identical) in the four strata. we also related our estimated principal components to mortality using Cox Proportional Hazards (CPH) models and related dietary component to mortality using forward variable selection.