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5 Foods to Add to Your Diet if You Have PCOS

For many women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), making changes to their diet can lead to major improvements in symptoms like irregular periods, infertility, excessive hair growth and hair loss.


One of the questions I get asked very frequently by my PCOS clients is: "what foods should I remove from my diet"? However, with PCOS I tend to focus more on what foods you can add to your diet. Adding PCOS friendly foods to your diet can help stabilize your blood sugars (which helps balance your hormones), reduce cravings, reduce inflammation and fill in any gaps there may be in your nutrition.


Steel Cut Oats


Steel cut oats are a low glycemic index carbohydrate. This means that they raise your blood sugar at a slower rate compared to other carbohydrate containing foods such as processed cereals and grains. Steel cut oats are rich in soluble fibre, which is a type of fibre that turns to a gel during digestion and leads to a slower and more sustained rise in blood sugar.


In 1/4 cup of uncooked steel cut oats, you get 4 grams of fibre, 27 grams of carbohydrate, and 5 grams of protein. Steel cut oats may also be a good source of iron if they are fortified. Having steel cut oats in the morning can help you feel satisfied and full for longer. It can also help prevent drops in blood sugar that lead to those intense afternoon sugar cravings women with PCOS often experience.


Nuts and Seeds


Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrition and are a source of healthy fats, fibre and protein. When a meal includes protein, healthy fats and fibre, you are more likely to feel full for longer and your blood sugars will be more stable. This is because your digestion is slowed down and sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower rate.


Nuts and seeds are also an excellent source of magnesium. Many women with PCOS don’t get enough magnesium. Magnesium can help reduce inflammation, insulin resistance and blood pressure. Aim for a handful of your favourite nuts and seeds or their butters each day. Have them as a snack, or add them to your oatmeal or salads!


Fatty Fish


Fish and seafood are great lean sources of protein. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel have the added benefit of being rich in omega-3 fats. Omega-3 can help reduce inflammation, lower triglycerides and may help improve fertility. Aim for 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week. One serving is about 75 grams or 2.5 ounces. You can opt for fresh, frozen or canned varieties.


Berries


Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are great options for women who have PCOS. Berries have a low glycemic index and are low in carbohydrate. This means you can have a larger portion size compared to some other fruit. That's not to say you can't have other fruit-you absolutely can and should! Berries may just be a better option if other parts of your meal are a bit higher in carbohydrate or if you want to have a larger portion size. Berries are also rich in vitamins, fibre, and antioxidant and have anti-inflammatory properties.


Edamame Beans


Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans. They are a great source of protein and fibre. One cup of shelled edamame beans provides 17 grams of protein and 8 grams of fibre. Edamame is plant-based protein that can make meals more filling and nutritious without adding too much carbohydrate to your meal. Recall that meals that are rich in protein and fibre make your meals more satisfying and can help balance blood sugars. One added benefit of edamame is that soy protein can help lower cholesterol. This is important because women with PCOS are at higher risk of having high cholesterol.


Bottom Line

Focusing on what delicious foods you can add to your diet is a better approach to managing PCOS than to focus on foods you need to eliminate. Focusing only on foods you need to remove can lead to a scarcity mindset, which can make you feel deprived and ultimately backfire. If you are unsure of what changes you need to make to improve your symptoms, reach out to a dietitian who can support you in eating well for PCOS. To book an appointment with me visit my booking page.


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