According to the University of Pennsylvania, kids who eat fish at least once a week sleep better and have an IQ up to four points higher on average than those who consume it less often or never.
The findings add to the evidence of previous studies that had shown a relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and sleep and intellect.
The case studied 541 children between 9 and 11 years old from China (54% boys, 46% girls), who filled out a questionnaire about the frequency with which they had eaten fish in the last month.
They also took IQ tests. Then, their parents answered questions about sleep quality using a standard questionnaire that included topics such as sleep duration and the frequency of nighttime wakefulness or daytime sleepiness.
Likewise, the researchers also took into account the educational level of their parents, their occupation, marital status and the number of children in the home.
By jointly analyzing all the data, they found that children who said they ate fish every week scored 4.8 points more on IQ tests, compared to those who ate it rarely or never. And those who eat them sometimes presented 3.3 points more.
In addition, the increase in fish consumption was associated with fewer alterations at bedtime, which according to the researchers indicates a better overall quality of sleep.
“Lack of sleep is associated with antisocial behaviour,” said Adrian Raine, author of the research, who recalls that other studies have pointed out that omega-3 supplements reduce antisocial behaviour, so “it’s not too surprising that the fish is behind this.”
Given this finding, the authors insist on the need to start children from very small in fish consumption, even from before the first year of life provided it has no scrapes and cut into small pieces.