CLEVELAND – Recent research suggests that it’s a good idea to let your children tag along to a Friday night fish dinner.
The study said children who eat fish once a week score higher on IQ tests and also reported better sleep.
Researchers looked at a group of 541 children and found that those who ate fish at least once a week scored 4.8 points higher on an IQ test than those who said they rarely or never ate fish.
The children who ate fish also experienced fewer sleep disruptions.
Diana Schnee, RD of Cleveland Clinic Children’s did not take part in the study, but said the results make sense, because fish is a healthy part of a growing child’s diet.
“Fish is very high in protein as well as good healthy fats, particularly the omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in fish like salmons, sardines, and mackerel.”
Schnee said that the main health benefit of fish comes from omega 3 fatty acids, which according to previous research, have been shown to reduce inflammation, and are good for brain growth and development.
Current recommendations say children ages two and older should have one to two servings of fish per week.
Schnee says that serving sizes do change as children age, so it’s important for parents to stay up to date on what is recommended for their child.
She said some parents might be concerned about the mercury content in some fish. The EPA and FDA have specific guidelines on which fish are recommended and what the appropriate serving sizes are.
Schnee admits that sometimes children are reluctant to try fish, but she said it helps to try a variety and to make it a fun experience to get them on board with trying something new.
“They can try fish in many different ways, so you have your typical tuna salad, but they might also like things like smoked salmon on crackers – you never know until you try,” she said.