Increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from foods like fish and walnuts has been linked to higher test scores (including IQ) among children. Of particular interest: The omega-3 brain boost was twice as pronounced among girls as among boys.
In a yet unpublished University of Pittsburgh study, researchers monitoring the cognitive abilities of over 4,000 boys and girls aged 6-16 found that kids performed better the more omega-3 fatty acids they consumed. “A large part of intelligence is determined by your genes, so to have a part determined by environment is pretty significant,” lead study author Professor Will Lessek told us. As for the increased effect among girls: Some of Lessek’s earlier research suggests girls may have higher omega-3 needs, as their bodies work to store up enough omega-3s, both for them and for any future offspring.
In addition to fueling brainpower, omega-3s also promote a healthy heart and emotional wellbeing. It may even help prevent obesity: Using lab cell cultures, University of Georgia researchers found that the omega-3 fatty acid found in fish intervened in fat formation, by either stunting or killing off cells that would have otherwise matured into adipocytes. Top sources of omega-3s include salmon, black cod, sardines, flounder, walnuts, and flaxseed.
Published August 1, 2008