Goat meat, Shelf life of spices, Pedometers

Goat meat, Shelf life of spices, Pedometers

Q: Is goat meat a healthier choice than other meats?
Q: Can I keep my jarred spices indefinitely?
Q: Are pedometers all the same, or what should someone look for before making a purchase?

Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Is goat meat a healthier choice than other meats?

A: Goat meat, long popular in the Caribbean and parts of Latin America and Asia, was named by Time magazine as one of the Top 10 Food Trends of 2008. It is lean meat, with saturated fat content comparable to that of skinless roast chicken. However, its composition classifies it as a red meat, so count it along with beef, pork and lamb as you eat no more than 18 ounces per week as a total of all red meat. We don’t have good data from population studies to check for a link between goat meat consumption specifically and cancer risk. But the content of a particular form of iron, called heme iron, is just as high in goat meat as in beef. Research suggests that heme iron may be part of the link between excess red meat and colon cancer risk, since heme iron seems to damage colon tissue as well as stimulate formation of compounds that can damage DNA and allow cancer development to start.

Q: Can I keep my jarred spices indefinitely?

A: Spices and dried herbs do not spoil, but eventually they do lose some of their flavor. Generally you can count on seeds and whole spices (such as cumin and dill seeds, whole cloves and peppercorns) staying fresh for three or four years. Ground spices (including cinnamon and ground pepper) stay flavorful for one to three years. Hold on to dried green herbs (such as basil and oregano) for six months to three years, watching for fading color and flavor to guide you. These seasonings may look attractive displayed over the stove, but to keep them this long, store them in airtight containers away from the heat, moisture and light that speed up their deterioration. Research is sparse regarding how long herbs and spices continue as a source of health-protective compounds, but it looks like these storage time limits are advisable to keep their health benefits as well as their flavor.

Q: Are pedometers all the same, or what should someone look for before making a purchase?

A: Pedometers are not all alike. Your question is important, because walking and other forms of physical activity are now considered vital to lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. And studies support the value of pedometers (step counters) in helping people meet healthy activity goals. You can find pedometers for less than five dollars or as promotional giveaways. These can be fun to use as you make goals and track progress, but most are not highly accurate and may last only a month or two to get your walking habit started. If you plan to use a pedometer for a longer time either daily or periodically, plan to spend at least twenty dollars and you can get better accuracy. However, studies show that even good quality pedometers made with the standard mechanism tend to give inaccurate results in people who have enough waistline fat that a pedometer can’t hang straight from a waistband. Those who tend to walk very slowly due to infirmities or balance problems are also prone to inaccuracies. Both of these groups of people can get accurate results by choosing a type of pedometer called an accelerometer. Many of these devices can also separately track how much of your movement falls in the especially healthful moderate to vigorous category, but these also cost more than standard pedometers.