The objective of this study was to examine the association between dietary inflammatory potential and memory and cognitive functioning among a representative sample of the US older adult population. Cross-sectional data from the 2011–2012 and 2013–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were utilised to identify an aggregate sample of adults 60–85 years of age (n 1723). Dietary inflammatory index (DII®) scores were calculated using 24-h dietary recall interviews. Three memory-related assessments were employed, including the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s disease (CERAD) Word Learning subset, the Animal Fluency test and the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). Inverse associations were observed between DII scores and the different memory parameters. Episodic memory (CERAD) (b
adjusted=−0·39; 95 % CI −0·79, 0·00), semantic-based memory (Animal Fluency Test) (b
adjusted=−1·18; 95 % CI −2·17, −0·20) and executive function and working-memory (DSST) (b
adjusted=−2·80; 95 % CI −5·58, −0·02) performances were lowest among those with the highest mean DII score. Though inverse relationships were observed between DII scores and memory and cognitive functioning, future work is needed to further explore the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the complex relationship between inflammation-related dietary behaviour and memory and cognition.