A new study has revealed that children who eat fish at least once a week get better sleep and have a higher IQ. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in the report published in MailOnline revealed that omega-3s, the fatty acids in fish, improve kid’s intelligence and found that those who ate more scored 4.8 points higher on an IQ test than children who said they rarely ate the seafood.
Those same children also reported getting a better night’s sleep, which previous studies have linked to higher intelligence. The findings they said are the first of its kind that show sleep as the link between fish and heightened intelligence, leading researchers to suggest introducing kids to fish as young as 10 months old to improve overall cognition throughout their lives.
The researchers conducted a study on more than 500 children in China aged nine to 11 to learn more about the effects of fish on intelligence and sleep. The participants filled out a questionnaire regarding eating habits and how often they consumed fish ranging from never, seldom to always.They took an IQ test where researchers then matched those results to the questionnaire.
The results published in the Journal Nature showed a distinct association between fish and intelligence as those who reported eating fish more often scored 4.8 points higher than those who rarely eat the seafood.
Children who said they sometimes eat fish scored 3.31 points higher than those who ‘seldom’ or ‘never’ consumed it.
The parents of the children in the study were also asked to submit a questionnaire regarding their child’s sleep quality. The length of sleep, frequency of napping and tiredness were included in the survey.Increased fish consumption was linked to fewer disturbances of sleep, supporting the notion that omega-3s promote better overall sleep quality.
Previous research has shown that the omega-3s found in fish have health benefits that can lower blood pressure, slow the development of plaque in arteries reducing the risk of heart attack and can improve sleep.
Other studies have also associated fish to improved cognitive function. However, this is the first study that has linked the fatty acids to better quality that can lead to higher intelligence.
The study author Prof Adrian Raine said: “Lack of sleep is associated with antisocial behavior and poor cognition is associated with antisocial behaviour. We have found that omega-3 supplements reduce antisocial behaviour, so it is not too surprising that fish is behind this.”
The researchers therefore encouraged parents to expose their children, as young as 10 months old, to fish as long as it does not have bones in order for them to grow a liking to the flavor and texture.
“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 have seen here, even better. It’s a double hit.’ Raine added.