Q: "Can you please give me some advice about whether my breakfasts are healthy? I am a diet-controlled diabetic, and find the only thing for breakfast that keeps me going until lunch is rolled oats. I love them raw mixed with stewed apple and rhubarb, but seem to recall reading that both the oats and rhubarb prevent iron being absorbed?"
A: Kristen Corselius White, a diabetes expert, responds:
"Yes, your breakfast is healthy. What constitutes a healthy breakfast depends on the person and their activity level. For most people (with or without diabetes), a nutritious breakfast consists of slow-releasing energy with some protein that is lower in added sugars and fat. To improve your breakfast, begin adding trim milk or yoghurt (soy is also fine) for added protein and calcium. Other healthy breakfast ideas include baked beans on whole grain toast and grilled tomatoes; a yoghurt and berry smoothie topped with a high-fibre cereal (bran flakes, Weet-bix, etc).
Your concern about oats, rhubarb and iron absorption relates to fibre and oxalates. Higher-fibre breakfasts tend to be lower in iron, therefore you need to look to other meals in the day to meet the bulk of your iron requirements. I would recommend that you vary the fruit on your rolled oats rather than always having rhubarb, an oxalate-rich food source."