Background/Aims: Low socioeconomic status (SES) is linked to higher incidence/mortality of cardiovascular disease, but emerging evidence inconsistently reported that education level, a proxy for SES, is related to cardiovascular risk and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in Koreans. Furthermore, limited information is available on whether dietary components would mediate the relationship between education level and cardiovascular risk. We hypothesized that selected food consumption mediates the association between education level and MetS prevalence. Methods: Data from the Korea National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (2008-2011) were included in cross-sectional analyses (n = 11,029, 30-64 years). The possible mediating effect of selected food groups (fruits, raw vegetables, red meat, milk, and soft drinks) on the association between education level and MetS was tested using a multiple mediation model. Results: Education level was negatively associated with MetS prevalence. The association between lower education level and higher MetS prevalence was partially mediated by selected food consumption (lower intakes of fruit, red meat and milk; higher intakes of vegetable and soft drink) after adjusted for covariates. Gender also modified the association between education level and MetS prevalence that was more prominent in women than in men. Conclusions: Selected food consumption substantially contributes to the association between education level and MetS in Korean adults, especially among women.