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Michael F. Jacobson

Michael F. Jacobson

Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., is founder and executive editor of NutritionAction.com®, a division of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). CSPI is a nonprofit health advocacy organization supported largely by the 850,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter, and CSPI is a key player in battles against obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems, using tactics ranging from education to legislation to litigation. Jacobson has written numerous books and reports, including Nutrition Scoreboard, Six Arguments for a Greener Diet, “Salt: the Forgotten Killer,” and “Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming Americans’ Health.”

Article Index

Earth Day by the Numbers

Today, April 22, is the 46th annual Earth Day, when more than 193 countries celebrate their love and care for our planet. Here are some numbers to consider as you   Read More

The Bottom Line: Foods with Trans Fat are Lingering

Hooray!

On June 17th, the Food and Drug Administration ended a battle that started a quarter century ago. The FDA banned partially hydrogenated oil, the source of artificial trans fat. The food industry will ask the FDA to allow specific amounts in certain foods, but I hope the FDA permits only levels that won’t harm consumers.

Food with trans fat entered our food supply more than a century ago, when chemists found that reacting liquid oils with hydrogen turned them into more-solid fats. That led to shortenings like Crisco (which replaced lard, butter, and beef tallow) and stick margarines. After World War II, the floodgates opened. Partially hydrogenated oils were cheap and shelf stable, and companies began to use them in thousands of foods.   Read More

The 4 Safest Sugar Substitutes and a Few to Avoid Completely

The best and safest artificial sweeteners are erythritol, xylitol, stevia leaf extracts, neotame, and mon fruit extract—with some caveats:

• Erythritol: Large amounts (more than about 40 or 50 grams or 10 or 12 teaspoons) of this sugar alcohol sometimes cause nausea, but smaller amounts are fine. (Sensitivities vary among individuals.) Erythritol, small amounts of which occur naturally in some fruits, is about 60 to 70 percent as sweet as table sugar and has at most one-twentieth as many calories. Unlike the high-potency sweeteners, erythritol provides the bulk and “mouth feel” of sugar.

• Xylitol: This sugar alcohol, which occurs naturally in birch and some other plants, is about as sweet as table sugar and has about three quarters of the calories. Too much xylitol (about 30–40 grams or 7–10 teaspoons, although sensitivities vary) could produce a laxative effect and/or gastrointestinal distress.   Read More

The Risks of Eating and Drinking Aloe Vera

Aloe vera, which comes from a succulent plant, is sold as a juice and is added to foods, supplements, and skin care products. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat.

Carefully conducted studies by the U.S. government concluded that there was “clear” evidence that aloe vera extracts caused intestinal cancers in male and female rats, but not mice, when consumed. (Applying aloe vera on the skin is not likely to cause harm.)   Read More

McRib Ingredients and McRibbitives You Should Know

Few fast-food items have achieved the cultural prominence of the McRib. Object of satire, conspiracy theory, and fevered online speculation, the McRib typically appears on McDonald’s menus with great fanfare only to vanish, fleetingly, some time later.

As Ian Bogost wrote in The Atlantic, we experience the McRib as (quasi-)foodstuff, as marketing campaign, as cult object, as Internet meme, but those experiences don’t sufficiently explain it.   Read More

Salt by the Numbers

Consuming more salt tends to increase blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.

Reducing sodium consumption by half would save an estimated 150,000   Read More

Berries over Bugs

A couple of months ago, a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization raised the possibility that insects could become a bigger and bigger part of our   Read More

The Farmer in the Market

If you’re like me, you love farmers markets.

Out in the country, farm stands range from small tables with little pyramids of brilliant red tomatoes to huge sheds with everything from   Read More

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