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Eating fish weekly makes kids more intelligent and sleep better

eating fish

If you want your children to sleep better at night and have high IQ levels, give them fish at least once a week, say researchers.

Eating fish just once a week makes children have higher IQs and sleep better, according to a research from the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S.

eating fish

It is well-known that eating fish is good for you, it is considered a crucial part of a healthful diet. Fish is very low in saturated fat, rich in vitamins, proteins, minerals, and it is also a good source of fatty acids called omega-3. Past studies have shown that omega-3s help the heart by lowering triglyceride levels, reducing risk of arrhythmia and lowering blood pressure. Omega-3s have also been linked with increased intelligence and better sleep.

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For this study, Jianghong Liu, of the School of Nursing at Penn State, and colleagues set out to learn more about the link between omega-3 and intelligence and sleep. They recruited 541 children from China. They assessed fish consumption of these children, who were aged 9-11 years.

eating fish

The children reported the amount of fish they ate over the past month by using a dietary questionnaire. Their parents completed questionnaire asking about the children’s sleeping hours at night, bedtime resistance, night-time waking, sleep anxiety, and daytime tiredness.

The children’s IQ was assessed by evaluating their vocabulary, arithmetic and understanding of information, and their ability to sort codes and arrange images.

eating fish

Eating fish makes children smarter

The researchers found that eating fish at least once a week improves children’s IQ score by an average of 4.8 points higher compared to the children who rarely or never consumed fish. Children who ate fish once in a while, scored 3.3 points higher than the children who rarely or never consumed fish.

Moreover, frequently eating fish makes youngsters less likely to have fewer sleep disturbances, resist going to bed, and feel tired during the day.

eating fish

The team believes that in addition to backing previous studies connecting omega-3 fatty acids with increased intelligence and better sleep, their study reveals that better sleep may resolve the link between omega-3 obtained from fish and intelligence.

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Prof. Adrian Raine, from Perelman School of Medicine at the Penn State, says poor sleep and poor cognition is linked with antisocial behavior. Since omega-3 supplements decrease antisocial behavior, it is not surprising that seafood is behind this, he explains.

eating fish

This study provides further proof of the health benefits of eating fish, say the researchers. They encourage youngsters to eat more fish.

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Jennifer Pinto-Martin, co-author of the study, says positive health benefits of fish is something that should be heavily advertised and promoted. She urges parents to introduce seafood to their children early on. She suggests introduction to start when the child is 2 years old, however, it could start as early as 10 months old. But, she cautions that the fish should contain no bones and should be finely chopped.

eating fish
For children, the fish should not contain any bone and should be finely chopped

Introducing the taste of fish early makes it more appetizing. Children are sensitive to smell, hence, if they’re not used to the fish odor, they may shy away from it, she adds.

The researchers say in future studies they plan to investigate these findings to see if they are relevant on adults as well. Also, they would like to find out which types of fish are the most beneficial.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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Salahuddin Ahmed is a freelance medical writer and blogger, who has been writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. A former New York transplant, he now lives in his native Dhaka. He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana and a diploma on eTechnology from NIIT, Dhaka. A voracious eater, Salahuddin only dines at restaurants that offer free refills on rice.

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