Fish have an abundance of fatty acids that make an excellent addition to any ADHD diet. Discover the many benefits of this versatile food, and check out 12 recipes to try.
There are many reasons you should add more fish to your child’s diet, regardless of whether he has ADHD. Fish has a wide range of well-document benefits for human health, both long and short term. But, if your kid has ADHD, the reasons to show some fishy love increase significantly!
Fish provide an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids (along with other important nutrients). Many studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids can play a role in controlling some of the more common symptoms of ADHD. So read on to learn more about the important role that fish and fatty acids can play in your child’s ADHD diet, and check out 12 recipes to get you started.
How Fish Contributes To Better Health
Fish contains many important nutrients. But key reasons to include fish in your family’s diets is that it’s an excellent source of protein. Protein is an important component of every cell in the human body. And, protein is an important component of building our bones and muscles.
Fish also provide a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The human body requires a certain amount of key fatty acids (such as Omega-3 fatty acids) to function properly. But our bodies can’t manufacture these acids. We have to consume them through food or supplements.
Because fish contains important nutrients like fatty acids, research shows that it can improve cardiovascular health. Thus, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week to maintain or improve cardiovascular health.
Similarly, fish can improve your brain functions and mental health. For instance, some research has found that children who ate fish had increased IQ scores on average than kids who seldom or never ate fish. And, like the AHA, the American Psychiatric Association recommends that everyone eat fish, particularly fatty fish, at least twice a week.
Finally, fish are high in vitamin D. Some experts say that it is one of the best sources for Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in helping your body absorb calcium. It can also help you sleep better.
Why An ADHD Diet Should Include More Fatty Acids
One of the essential key facts about ADHD is that ADHD brains function differently. And, evidence shows that nutrition can play an important role in managing ADHD symptoms, both positively or negatively. And, as we’ve discussed before, you can create an ADHD diet for your kid that helps promote better management of ADHD symptoms and behaviors.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients in brain development and functioning. And, many research studies have specifically examined the relationship between ADHD and Omega-3 fatty acids. Substantial research shows that people with ADHD often have lower concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood than folks without ADHD. And, research has also shown that supplementing Omega-3 fatty acids can often reduced symptoms of ADHD, particularly in kids.
Although the weight of substantial research suggests that increased consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids can have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms, the overall body of research is not entirely consistent.
For a great summary of the science behind the benefits of OMEGA-3 Fatty Acids for the ADHD brain, check out The Ultimate (ADHD) Brain Food
You can increase the amount of fatty acids consumed in an ADHD diet by incorporating actual foods that typically have high amounts of the fatty acids we’re seeking. This includes fish like like salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. It also includes shellfish like shrimp, crab, mussels and oysters.
Some Guidelines For Incorporating Fish or Fatty Acids Into An ADHD Diet
Not all fish are created equal. You should be wary of fish bearing high amounts of mercury or environmental pollutants. Notably, research shows that excess mercury can potentially increase ADHD issues and otherwise impair good health.
Certain types of fish are more likely to have excessive mercury and should be avoided. These include shark, king mackerel and tilefish.
Conversely, commonly eaten fish that have a low mercury content include salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, catfish and pollock.
And what about that debate between farm-raised fish and wild caught fish? You can find a sharp difference of opinion on that topic.
Some folks believe that wild caught fish is always categorically better than farm-raised fish. But that’s apparently a common misconception about seafood. There are pros and cons in both the wild fish and farmed fish columns. You can find a basic summary of the various argument points set out in What is the difference between wild and farmed salmon?
Wild caught fish can be substantially more expensive than the farmed variety, which can make it an impractical choice for incorporating multiple servings a week into an ADHD diet (or the family diet for that matter). And, farmed raised fish has sufficient amounts of the fatty acids that we’re seeking to incorporate in an ADHD diet.
PSA: Give Sardines A Chance!
You may have noticed that some of the fish on the recommended list aren’t particularly popular. Or, you may not think of them as a regular dinner food. For instance, when’s the last time you considered making a meal out of sardines? But don’t dismiss them out of hand! For some reasons why you should give sardines a try, check out 8 Benefits of Sardines (& How to Make Them Taste Great)
12 Recipes For An ADHD Diet Based On Recommended Fish
NOTE: You can substitute quinoa or another whole grain for the farro.
Although incorporating fatty acids into a healthy ADHD diet won’t eliminate ADHD, it can lead to better management of ADHD symptoms. Plus, fatty acids have many other cardiovascular and psychological benefits. So, if your family isn’t already regularly consuming fish, hopefully one of these recipes can make it into your rotation!