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Although adherence to dietary guidelines is associated with better cognitive performance, there may be differences by nativity status. This study aimed to investigate the association between adherence to the healthy eating index (HEI) and cognitive performance (CP) among United States (US)-born and foreign-born older adults (60+ years). Data were obtained from the 2011–2014 NHANES (n = 3065). Dietary adherence was assessed with HEI quintiles. CP (adequate vs. low) was examined using word listing (CERAD), animal naming (AFT), and the digit symbol substitution test (DSST). Weighted multivariable logistic regressions were used to examine associations. The US-born participants in higher dietary quintiles had adequate CP when compared to foreign-born participants. In adjusted models, the US-born participants in the highest HEI quintile had increased odds of adequate DSST scores (odds ratio: 1.95, 95% confidence interval: 1.15–3.28) compared with those in the lowest quintile. Patterns of association were generally reversed for foreign-born participants and were non-statistically significant. Future research should consider the influence of diets in delaying or preventing decline in cognition and evaluate nutritional factors that contribute to cognitive outcomes for the foreign-born population

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.