Part 4: Managing PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
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What is the best PCOS diet? Foods ideal for your health

overhead shot of a woman in a short sleeve lace blouse eating a fruit smoothie bowl sitting cross legged in a chair

Part 4 of a 5 part series to explore the best PCOS diet and nutrition tips (written by Teagan Evans, Student in the Nutrition and Food Science program at the University of Alberta and reviewed by our Health Stand Nutrition Dietitian Team).    


If you have been following our series on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) so far, you will have learned about the hormonal changes, associated conditions, and the effect PCOS has on fertility. If you’ve missed our previous 3 articles on the PCOS diet you can review them here: 


We have briefly mentioned some of the nutritional and food choices you can make to help balance PCOS symptoms and this article will dive into how you can make healthy food choices to build the best PCOS diet.  


Since PCOS has many associated health conditions, ensuring your diet accommodates all aspects of your health is very important. Seek out the help of a Registered Dietitian that specializes in assisting you with a healthy PCOS diet.  


Here are some actions you can take to create a healthier and well-rounded diet plan for PCOS.  


Increase your fibre intake


Fibre is a great component of any diet and can provide benefits for your digestive system and blood sugar management. Insulin sensitivity and resistance is a common condition associated with PCOS and including fibre in your diet can help manage blood glucose levels. By consuming fibre in meals and snacks, you will also have increased satiation and feel full for longer periods of time. Both these benefits can help you manage diabetes and weight concerns associated with PCOS.  


collage of high fiber foods around a wooden board with fiber written in white chalk


There are different types of fibre, each with their own benefits. Insoluble fibre is highly beneficial to maintaining regularity in our digestive system as we are unable to digest it completely. Soluble fibre can be digested by our body and provides other benefits such as helping control our blood sugar levels and the ability to reduce harmful cholesterol. You should aim to consume 20-25g of fibre every day.  


Sources of fibre: 


  • Fruits 
  • Vegetables 
  • Whole grains 
  • Nuts & Seeds 



Focus on your protein intake


In addition to fibre, protein can also help you manage weight concerns and blood sugar levels. Protein is also a great addition to your diet for building muscle, cellular reproduction, and keeping your body strong and healthy. Aim to include some form of protein into meals and snacks throughout your day.  


It can be hard for many people to incorporate more protein into their diet. Some ideas can include swapping quinoa for pasta, making your own protein granola bars, or trying new protein sources such as tofu or cottage cheese.  


high protein foods including meat, cheese, beans and nuts

Sources of protein: 


  • Beef, chicken, fish, and pork 
  • Legumes, lentils, soy 
  • Quinoa, barley, nuts, seeds (lower quantities) 


For a full overview on protein visit this previous article on our blog: How Much Protein Do I Need? 


Choose heart-heathy fats


As a result of the increase in androgens, many women with PCOS can be at increased risk of both diabetes and heart conditions. By focusing on consuming heart-healthy fats, you can help reduce your risk of future heart episodes. Unsaturated fats are highly beneficial for your heart and overall health and can be easily recognized in the grocery store by being liquid at room temperature.  


Sources of unsaturated fats: 


  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Fish 
  • Avocados  
  • Olive, avocado, canola, and sunflower oil 


healthy foods with unsaturated fats like salmon and avocado

Limit ultra-processed foods


Limiting your consumption of ultra-processed foods such as salty snacks, prepared baked goods, confectionary, and pop can be highly beneficial in managing blood sugar levels. Many of the ultra-processed foods available to us are full of salt, unhealthy fats, sugar, and highly refined carbohydrates. When we consume these foods, our blood sugars can spike rapidly, and this can be a concern for people with insulin resistance and diabetes.  


Eliminating these types of foods can be difficult because they can be highly desirable and are easy to grab as a quick snack. However, instead of completely eliminating items such as cookies, desserts, and pop be intentional about keeping small portions of the most enjoyable items you really love and reduce others that are perhaps chosen due to poor planning or mindless eating.  Replace pop with flavoured carbonated water cold chilled unsweetened herbal tea. 


Here are some recipes ideas to help you replace ultra-processed foods: 




Reduce alcohol intake


Women with PCOS can often have increased risk of developing Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) which causes long-term liver damage. Researchers have found that women with PCOS have a possible increased risk of NAFLD due to insulin resistance and high androgen levels, however the connection is not entirely clear.  Over-consumption of alcohol can further damage your liver and cause numerous health issues.  


fizzy water in mason jars with fresh fruit 


Alcohol is considered an “empty” calorie because it does not provide any valuable nutrients and can contribute to extra calories and weight gain over time.  


Here are some tips to help reduce your alcohol consumption: 


  • Eliminate or reduce the amount of alcohol in cocktails 
  • Select drinks that are lower in sugar to help manage blood glucose levels  
  • Choose non-alcoholic options  
  • Get creative with your own mocktail version of classic cocktails 


A healthy PCOS diet

Collage of healthy PCOS diet foods


By incorporating these healthy diet and lifestyle changes, you will be benefiting your health and body! Focusing on creating a balanced diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, plant-based protein sources, and healthy fats will always be beneficial and help you become a healthier version of yourself.  



For more help on staying motivated on a PCOS diet plan you can sustain for life, reach out to one of our Registered Dietitians.  Find out more about nutrition counseling for PCOS here:  Nutrition Counseling for PCOS. 



Looking for more simple meal planning tips and healthy recipes for a healthier lifestyle? Sign up for our weekly newsletter for a healthy recipe of the week (and nutrition articles and videos with a balanced living philosophy to help encourage healthy habits but still save room for your favorites). Our nutrition newsletter is written by the Online / Calgary Nutritionists on our team who each hold a professional Registered Dietitian license to ensure you are getting credible advice.

View the full PCOS Series:

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