An increasing body of research indicates that having a diet rich in omega-3s, the fatty acids found in fish and seafood, has a variety of nutritional benefits. A recent University of Pennsylvania study found that omega-3s improve cognition, make you smarter, and even help you sleep better. Since people who live in so-called “Blue Zones,” places where residents routinely live above the age of 90, tend to eat a Mediterranean diet that is heavy in seafood, there’s also evidence to suggest these vital fatty acids can help you live longer. And another recent study even found that eating more seafood could boost your sex life and your fertility.
Now, there’s yet another reason to make more family dinners that incorporate seafood. A new study, published in the scholarly journal Aggressive Behavior, claims that giving children omega-3 supplements can help curb their bad behavior, and even prevent criminal acts once they get older.
Jill Portnoy, an assistant professor in UMass Lowell’s School of Criminology and Justice Studies and lead author on the study, conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, stratified, and parallel group trial in which some children were given a fruit drink containing 1 gm of omega‐3 fats and others were given one without any omega-3s for six months (note: neither the parents nor the children knew about the difference in the drinks). When she followed up with the families a year later, parents whose children were in the omega‐3 group reported long-term reductions in psychological aggression.
Furthermore, the fact that their kids were throwing fewer tantrums meant that the behavior of the adults improved, as well. This is highly significant, since it’s widely known that family strife is one of the leading reasons for delinquent behavior in teens. As such, the study concluded that, “improving child behavior through omega-3 supplementation could have long-term benefits to the family system as a whole.”
While the first of its kind, the study is not altogether surprising, since omega-3s have previously been proven to reduce anxiety, depression, ADHD, and aggressive or anti-social behavior in adults. But it’s good to know that the same effect has been found in children, and to keep in mind the long-term benefits of keeping the peace in the house early on.
And for more science-backed advice on how to raise a good kid, check out Why Getting More Sleep Will Make You a Better Parent and Why Your Phone Is Making You a Terrible Parent.
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