New research indicates that the benefits of fish really are fabulous for our kiddos. A recent report in the journal Scientific Reports shows that children who eat fish once a week or more sleep better and perform better on IQ tests than those who never eat it.
The healthy benefits found in the essential fatty acids of fish —or Omega 3s—have been proven to enhance brain function in kids (even combat symptoms of ADHD), improve sleep quality, and protect against high cholesterol and heart disease in adults.
Dr. Dilip Karnik is not surprised by the results of this study. The Pediatric Neurologist at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin specializes in treating children with ADHD and autism and often looks to holistic methods, like diet and supplements, first.
This particular study evaluated more than 500 children in China between the ages of nine and eleven, and they were asked to answer how many times per month they ate fish with the options being “never” and “at least once per week.” At age 12, study participants were then given an IQ test that scored both verbal and nonverbal skills.
Here’s what they found:
• Children who said they ate fish weekly scored 4.8 points higher on the IQ tests than those who said they “seldom” or “never” ate fish.
• “Sometimes” eaters of fish scored 3.3 points higher on the IQ tests.
• Parents of the kids who ate fish at least once per week reported them having fewer sleep disturbances than those who did not.
The authors of the study suggest introducing fish into a child’s diet as early as two years of age so that the unique taste will become regular and more palatable to them.
For kids of all ages, fish should be finely chopped, and parents should ensure there are no dangerous bones hidden in the flesh.
Some fun, kid-friendly fish dishes include fish tacos, homemade breaded fish sticks/nuggets, fishy mac and cheese, and fish pot pie.
Fish with the most brain-boosting benefits include salmon, mackerel, sardines, and albacore tuna.
Omega-3s in supplement form are also a great option if your child doesn’t fancy the flavor of fish. Check out our past blog on fish oils and supplements right here.
(Adapted from CNN-Health)