Eating tropical fruit reduces mercury exposure from fish consumption in the Brazilian Amazon

Environ Res. 2003 Oct;93(2):123-30. doi: 10.1016/s0013-9351(03)00019-7.


This study aimed to examine the influence of the consumption of traditional foods on the relationship between fish consumption and mercury (Hg) exposure. A 12-month prospective dietary survey was carried out with 26 adult women from a fish-eating community in the Brazilian Amazon. Food ingestion was determined using a daily food diary, and total hair Hg levels were assessed for each month through sequential analyses using cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry. Simple and multiple regression analyses showed that the strong relationship between fish consumption and Hg exposure was significantly modified by fruit consumption: for the same number of fish meals, those who ate more tropical fruits had lower hair mercury levels. The findings of this study indicate different ways of maintaining fish consumption while reducing Hg exposure in the Amazon. A number of phytochemicals and nutritional fibers present in fruits might be interacting with Hg in several ways: absorption and excretion, transport, binding to target proteins, metabolism, and sequestration. More studies are required on larger populations to further elucidate the extent and public health implications of the use of fruits to counteract the toxic action of methylmercury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Fishes*
  • Food Contamination*
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Mercury / pharmacokinetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic


  • Mercury