A reports suggests regular fish consumption improves sleep and boosts IQ.
Children who eat fish at least once a week sleep better which, in turn, may positively affect their IQ, according to a new in the journal Scientific Reports written by a team at the University of Pennsylvania. According to the study this was the first of its kind to find the association between the food, sleep and intelligence.
The researchers asked 541 Chinese school children ages 9 to 11 to complete a questionnaire about how often they consumed fish in the past month. The team then evaluated the children’s verbal and non-verbal skills with a test to determine cognitive functioning. Finally, parents were asked to answer questions about their child’s sleeping behaviors.
The results were striking. According to parents of children who consumed more fish reported fewer disturbances of sleep. The researchers posited that the Omega-3 fatty acids that are abundant in fish could be the reason for improved sleep.
In addition, children who indicated eating more fish scored 4.8 points higher on an IQ exam. Those who reported eating meals that occasionally included fish scored an average of 3.3 points higher.
Adrian Raine, one of the researchers, said to Science Daily, "Doing that could be a lot easier than nudging children about going to bed. If the fish improves sleep, great. If it also improves cognitive performance, like we've seen here, even better. It's a double hit."
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Jennifer Pinto-Martin, executive director of Penn's Center for Public Health Initiatives, speaking to Science Daily agreed. "It adds to the growing body of evidence showing that fish consumption has really positive health benefits and should be something more heavily advertised and promoted." Pinto Martin advises starting to feed children fish (bone free and finely chopped) as young as 10 months and at least by age 2. "Children should be introduced to it early on," she told the science site.