Here’s an urban legend that turns out to be true. Fish is brain food. Previous studies have found that fish improves intelligence in children. And now it looks like it improves sleep as well. It just shows you – fish is for kids.
The study looked at children between the ages of 9 and 11. They evaluated intelligence using standard tests. And the parents filled out questionnaires about their children’s sleep disturbances.
They correlated the results of the tests and questionnaires with how often the children ate fish. The children fit into three groups:
- The children who ate the most fish (one or more per week): Their tested IQs were almost five points higher than children in the group eating no fish. And they had the best sleep.
- The children eating fish once in awhile: They tested a little over three points higher than the no-fish kids. And their sleep quality was somewhere in the middle.
- And the kids who ate no fish: Last in both categories. Those kids need fish.
What Is It About Fish?
Fish has a lot of nutrients, but its real claim to fame is its abundant load of omega-3s. In fact research has found omega-3s to have a range of beneficial effects. And in earlier studies, omega-3s were correlated with – you guessed it! Intelligence and sleep. That’s the reason fish is for kids.
Why Did Intelligence Improve?
The researchers theorize that better sleep resulted in better brain health. The study itself was designed to investigate the 3-way relationship between omega-3s, sleep, and intelligence. And it certainly bolsters the findings of those earlier studies.
The researchers recommend introducing children to fish at an early age (before they learn the word “yuck”). A fish can seem smelly and weird if you’re not used to it. So introducing it when they’re young is a good idea.
It may make them smarter. It may improve their sleep. Fish is for kids. But it’s not just for kids.