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Eating Fish May Make Kids Smarter and Help them Sleep Better at Night

posted: 01/04/18
by: Amanda Mushro
Little girl and big fish
iStock

 

When you are meal planning this week, you might want to swap out chicken nuggets for salmon or tuna, and it's not just to change up your regular dinner menu. We've all heard you are what you eat, but now scientists are saying fish not only makes your kids smarter but also super sleepers.

According to a new study in the journal Scientific Reports, children who eat fish at least once a week or more were found to sleep better at night and score higher on IQ tests when compared to kids who do not eat fish. Researchers say it's all because of the brain food in fish- omega-3 fatty acids.

For the study, more than 500 Chinese children that were between the ages of 9 and 11 were examined to see their sleep patterns, eating habits, and IQ. Researchers found that children who said they ate fish weekly scored 4.8 points higher on the IQ tests than those who said they "seldom" or "never" ate fish.

When it came to sleep, researchers turned to the parents. Parents of the children in the study answered questions about sleep quality. According to the study, the children who ate more fish had fewer disturbances while sleeping. This means they had a better overall sleep quality because of their fish dinner.

"Introducing the taste early makes it more palatable," says Jennifer Pinot-Martin, a researcher for the study. "It really has to be a concerted effort, especially in a culture where fish is not as commonly served or smelled."

So what can you do if your kid turns up their nose at fish? The first step is to introduce fish in different ways to find a recipe that your family is a fan of and can become a regular rotation in your meal planning.

If you've tried different types of fish and recipes and your kids are still not willing to eat their dinner, try fish oil supplements that are designed for kids. These tend to be flavored and easier to digest. This way your kids can still get the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids while you continue to introduce fish more frequently into their diets.