In December 2018 researchers from Germany and Norway published the results of their study to assess whether young children with a high salmon consumption had better cognitive outcomes than those on a meat based diet. A total of 205 children, aged 4-6 years, were divided into two groups and consumed meals containing either farmed Atlantic salmon or meat three times weekly for a period 16 weeks. Information on general dietary intake before and during the study was collected via food frequency questionnaires. Cognitive and fine-motor coordination tests were undertaken both at the start and end of the study as well as assessments of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin D and urinary iodine. Results showed that levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (both omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) increased significantly in the salmon group when compared to the meat group, although it should be noted that vitamin D and iodine intake also increased in the salmon group. In addition, no significant differences between the salon and meat groups were seen in the cognitive and fine-motor coordination tests. However, an analysis of the individual components of the tests showed that those with an increased consumption of salmon exhibited a significantly better improvement in symbol searching and picture concepts when compared to those in the meat group.
Demmelmair H et al. The effect of Atlantic salmon consumption on the cognitive performance of preschool children – A randomized controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 2018 Dec 22. pii: S0261-5614(18)32564-0.