Eating fish makes kids smarter and healthier - GulfToday

Eating fish makes kids smarter and healthier

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The photo has been used for illustrative purposes. TNS

Children who ate fish regularly scored nearly five points higher on a standard IQ test that measures cognitive function in children according to a study. The kids who favored fish over traditionally kid-friendly items like, say, chicken fingers and fries, also slept better and had fewer sleep interruptions.

The study of 541 boys and girls in China, ages 9 to 11, who completed a questionnaire about how often they consumed fish in the past month, was published Dec. 21 in Scientific Reports.

The results found that those who said they ate fish once a week scored 4.8 points higher on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale IQ test than those who seldom or never included fish in their diets.

“This area of research is not well-developed. It’s emerging,” said Jianghong Liu, the lead author on the paper and an associate professor of nursing and public health, told the school’s Penn News. “Here we look at omega-3s coming from our food instead of from supplements.”

Even these children who ate fish only occasionally benefited with better verbal and non-verbal skills and scored an average of 3.3 IQ points higher than those who turned their noses up at fish. The link between omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish — but not all kinds of fish — and better brain function has been found in many studies over the years.

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A new study found children who ate fish regularly scored higher on a standard IQ test. TNS

That’s good news in South Florida, which certainly doesn’t lack for fish options.

kids who kept a food diary and took an IQ test should not be considered cause and effect — as in an eat-fish-and-you’ll-be-smarter certainty.

“You have to be careful to say ‘eating fish will cause better intelligence.’ It’s an association. There could be other things factoring in there so it’s not cause and effect,” Rarback said.

“Fish oils are also very good anti-inflammatories and so many root causes of disease are inflammation. So you can’t lose by eating more fish. But what I say is important, particularly with kids with developing brains, is to go for lower mercury fish,” Rarback cautions.

“Fish with the lowest potential for mercury is canned white tuna and salmon — those are two good choices for kids. And sardines, though I’ve yet to meet the kid who likes sardines,” Rarback said, laughing. “But sardines have the lowest potential for any types of toxins because they are so small, so they are terrific.”

Professor Jennifer Pinto-Martinone, executive director of Penn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives, told Penn News the research “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. Children should be introduced to it early on.”

Tribune News Service