Established dietary predictors of plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) include folate, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and B12, while information is scarce regarding other dietary components. The aim of this study was to examine the relation between a variety of food groups, food items and nutrients, and plasma tHcy in a large population-based study. The study population included 5812 men and women aged 47–49 and 71–74 years who completed a 169-item FFQ. tHcy was examined across quartiles of dietary components by multiple linear regression analyses adjusting for age, sex, energy intake, various risk factors for elevated tHcy, as well as for dietary and plasma B-vitamins. Among 4578 non-users of vitamin supplements, intake of vegetables, fruits, cereals, eggs, fish and milk, as well as chicken and non-processed meats were inversely associated with tHcy level. The estimated mean difference in tHcy per increasing quartile of intake ranged from − 0·11 (95 % CI − 0·21, − 0·01) μmol/l for milk to − 0·32 (95 % CI − 0·42, − 0·22) μmol/l for vegetables. Positive associations were found for sweets and cakes. Whole-grain bread was significantly inversely related to tHcy only after additional adjustment for dietary and plasma B-vitamins. The nutrients folate, vitamin B6, B12, and riboflavin were inversely related to tHcy. Complex carbohydrates were inversely, and fat positively associated with tHcy, also after adjustment for dietary and plasma B-vitamins. In conclusion, food items rich in B-vitamins and with a low content of fat and sugar were related to lower tHcy levels. Eggs, chicken, non-processed meat, fish and milk were inversely associated with tHcy.