Consumption of seafood and its estimated heavy metals are associated with lipid profile and oxidative lipid damage on healthy adults from a Spanish Mediterranean area: A cross-sectional study

Environ Res. 2017 Jul;156:644-651. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.04.037. Epub 2017 May 5.


The association between the consumption of seafood and its benefits on cardiovascular (CVD) risk can be challenged by its heavy metal (HM) content. This study aimed to explore the association of seafood consumption and its estimated HM contents with the lipid profile and lipid oxidation biomarkers in adults from a Spanish Mediterranean area who do not present risk factors for CVD. In this cross-sectional study, the clinical history, three-day dietary record, lipid profile (LDLc, HDLc, APOB/A, and triglyceride levels), plasma oxidised LDL (oxLDL) and 8-isoprostane levels of 81 adults without risk factors for CVD [43% men, with a mean age of 43.6 years (95%CI: 40.1-47.1)] were assessed. The HM [arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), and lead (Pb)] contents of seafood were estimated according to data from analyses of marine species in the same Mediterranean area. Moderate adherence to the Mediterranean diet (score: 4.6 of 9) with a mean seafood consumption of 74.9g/day (95%CI: 59.9-89.9), including 22.7g of shellfish per day (95%CI: 13.5-31.9), was observed. The estimated HM contents were lower than the provisional tolerable weekly intakes (PTWIs): 21.12µg/kg/week As, 0.57µg/kg/week InAs, 0.15µg/kg/week Cd, 1.11µg/kg/week Hg and 0.28µg/kg/week Pb. After adjusting by confounder variables, an increase in shellfish consumption was associated with increases in the levels of LDLc (P=0.013), non-HDLc (P=0.015), APOB/A (P=0.02) and plasma oxLDL (P=0.002). Moreover, an increase in the estimated As and Hg levels in shellfish was associated with an increase in LDLc (P=0.015 and P=0.018, respectively), non-HDLc (P<0.008 and P<0.008, respectively), APOB/A ratio (P=0.008 and P=0.009, respectively), and oxLDL (P≤0.001 and P≤0.001, respectively) levels. In conclusion, in adults without risk factors for CVD, increasing shellfish consumption, even by a moderate amount, could favour a pro-atherogenic lipid profile and a higher level of oxidised LDL. These associations are likely influenced by the estimated exposure to As and Hg from shellfish despite these values are lower than the PTWIs.

Keywords: Biomarkers of CVD risk; Heavy metals; Marine species; Oxidised LDL; Shellfish consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Seafood / analysis*
  • Spain
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Lipids
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Arsenic