From the Nile River to your local food market, fish has been a staple food source for humans for thousands of years. Fish can be found in all kinds of shapes and sizes in global cuisine; it serves as a high-protein, low-fat food that contains beneficial oils and fatty acids that have consistently been praised by health gurus and physicians alike. A study recently conducted by the University of Pennsylvania discovered that children who eat fish at least once a week experience better sleep and exhibit IQ scores that are 4 points higher, on average, in comparison to children who lack any type of fish in their diets. 

The viability of fish in our food culture can be partially attributed to a multitude of health benefits. There is a significantly high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, that are considered "good fats." These fats have been shown to improve cardiovascular health, reduce tissue inflammation and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and may assist in reducing depression and mental decline in the elderly. Fish that contain particularly high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids include Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies,   also contains a very low amount of Omega-6 fatty acids that are deemed "bad fats." Often found in red meats, Omega-6 fatty acids have been correlated with cardiovascular mortality and many other inflammatory diseases such as Type II diabetes and obesity. The aforementioned study sought to draw parallels between the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish and how their positive impact on sleep, would in turn, result in higher IQ values in children.

sushi, salmon, sashimi, fish, seafood, rice, tuna, meat, wasabi
Jocelyn Hsu

Although good fats have been associated with better sleep and increased intelligence, never before have they all been connected by a specific mediating pathway. Quality of sleep was reported based on the amount of disturbances occurring in a child's sleep. IQ was quantified by exams that were distributed to children who ate fish weekly, sometimes, or never. The developmental benefits that eating fish can have starts as early as age 2, and there is not currently a large portion of marketing of fish products towards the youth. Introducing fish into young diets from an early age will not only make it more palatable for them in the future, but will contribute to improving their overall health. 

asparagus, salmon, rosemary, pepper
Julia Catalano

Studies have also shown that many of the health benefits that fish have are found in both uncooked and cooked fish. However, before you decide to start raiding your favorite sushi place, it is important to note than if not handled or prepared properly, many of the bacteria and parasites that remain during the freezing process will be in the sushi itself when it is "ready" for consumption. Additionally, the high levels of mercury found in species of fish along the likes of mackerel and tuna can be detrimental to neurological health and can place people at great risk of a compromised immune system. 

The benefits of eating fish are inadmissible, but eating in moderation will always give you the best result. It is extremely important to be smarter about what you eat, but in this case, you can eat smart to get smart!