According to the old wives, fish is supposed to be brain food. They have just been proved right again, at least in part. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that kids who eat fish about once a week perform better on IQ tests (Liu et al, Scientific Reports, online, Dec. 21, 2017).
Do Kids Who Eat Fish Sleep Better?
The investigators studied 541 Chinese school children who were enrolled in 4th, 5th and 6th grades. Food questionnaires sought information about fish intake. The students were queried about how often they eat fish in a typical month.
Fish consumption alone was not enough. The investigators also assessed sleep quality by asking parents to report on things like sleep-onset delay, sleep duration and daytime sleepiness.
They determined intelligence using the Chinese equivalent of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. The kids who ate fish at least once a week scored almost 5 points on their IQ tests compared to the children who hardly ever ate fish.
Those who consumed fish more frequently also slept better. This may help explain some of the brain benefits, since adequate sleep is crucial for learning. Previous research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids that are abundant in cold-water fish are linked to better sleep quality.
The authors conclude:
“this is the first study to indicate that frequent fish consumption may help reduce sleep problems (better sleep quality), which may in turn benefit long-term cognitive functioning in children.”