Diet for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Diet for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects the endocrine (hormonal) system in women. It is estimated that 15 to 20 per cent of women have PCOS worldwide. [34]


Although PCOS symptoms usually take place once a woman has started to menstruate, in certain women it develops later during adulthood. Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Period problems (no, or irregular, periods)
  • Infertility
  • Acne
  • Hair loss (from the head)
  • Excessive hair growth on the face, chest, back, and stomach
  • Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems


The cause of PCOS is thought to be a combination of both environmental and genetic factors, although this is yet to be scientifically proven. It is believed that hormonal imbalances are a contributing factor. Women with PCOS often have high levels of testosterone, a ‘male hormone’, and are hormonally deficient in Sex Hormone-Binging Globulin (SHGB).

Insulin is also thought to be a contributing factor to developing PCOS. Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that allows blood glucose to be stored in the liver and muscle as glycogen, a readily available form of energy.

When the body’s tissues become resistant to insulin, the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas compensate by creating more insulin. High levels of insulin can trigger the ovaries into creating too much testosterone, preventing normal ovulation. [35]

Diet for PCOS

Although there is no cure for PCOS, symptoms can still be treated. Eating a diet low in carbohydrates with a high amount of fat and protein will improve symptoms. [36]

Following a low-carb diet may seem daunting at first, but can be very rewarding in the long run. However, as most people’s primary source of energy comes from carbohydrates, once they are no longer a staple in your diet it is important that you make sure you’re eating enough fat and protein for energy.

The focus should be on eating foods that contain lots of healthy monounsaturated fats, poly unsaturated fats, and protein. Foods to eat include:

  • Meat: poultry, beef, pork and game meat (grass fed and organic are best)
  • Fish: salmon, mackerel, herring, cod and haddock (wild fish are best)
  • Organic eggs
  • Vegetables grown above ground: cucumber, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, olives, mushrooms cauliflower, lettuce, avocado, Brussels sprouts, onions, peppers and tomatoes (organic is best)
  • Full-fat dairy: cheese, butter, cream and Greek yoghurt (drink milk in moderation as it contains sugar)
  • Low-carb nuts: macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts (hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts in moderation)
  • Once per week: raw dark chocolate, fruit, onion, carrot and beetroot (treat these as occasional indulgences

Avoid the following:

  • Sugar: sweets, chocolate, ice-cream, soft drinks and fruit juice
  • Grains and veg grown underground: pasta, bread, rice, potato, sweet potato, porridge, breakfast cereal, parsnip, chips and crisps
  • Trans fats, vegetable oils and omega-6 fats: hydrogenated oils, sunflower, safflower, soybean, cottonseed and corn oils.
  • Processed meats: bacon, salami, luncheon meat and sausages.

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