PCOS: Diet

Posted On August 12, 2018

Diet in PCOS

Dr.Shobhana Mohandas.      MD.DGO.FICOG.Dip Endoscopy (Germany)

Chief Consultant Gynaecologist, Sun Medical Centre, Thrissur, Kerala.


Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition were the body is resistant to the hormone insulin.  Excess of insulin acts on the ovary to produce more male hormones

This leads to irregular periods and signs like excessive hair growth and lack of ovulation, which may lead to infertility.

The following diet guidelines are useful to practice in women suffering from PCOS:

  1. Limiting milk and diary products;
  2. Limiting carbohydrates and foods containing carbohydrates, as they need insulin to digest them. Foods containing carbohydrates include white rice, sugar, sweets and fleshy root vegetables like potato, beetroot, sweet potato, yam,etc, because they have a high glycemic index, meaning they get converted to glucose quickly, increasing the need for insulin to digest them.  Since the body is resistant to this action, there would be increased production of insulin, which will again act on the ovaries to produce more androgens, or male hormones.
  3. Use unpolished rice, if at all
  4. Avoid Rava/Sooji and maida. In kerala, avoid the kerala paratha as it is made of maida. Avoid Upma with sooji.
  5. Carbohydrates in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains such as wheat, barley, oats, may be preferred.
  6. Use whole wheat chapattis.
  7. Smaller, more frequent meals (every 3-4 hours) to help control blood glucose levels.
  8. Proteins should form about 25-30% of your total calories. Good quality protein such as fish, egg whites, lean chicken, soy products etc may be preferred. Also, pulses and legumes such as cowpea, moth, lentils, green and red gram provide good amount of protein. They also provide essential fiber when consumed with the skin. Fish also provides the omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for women with PCOS.
  9. Use lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, pepper, herbs and spices instead of table salt to season foods. Limit salt intake (aim for less than 2400 milligrams of salt per day),
  10. Avoid excess coffee and tea. Coffee increases urinary secretion of important minerals such as magnesium, potassium and sodium and uses up a fair amount of vitamin B1.
  11. Coconut oil has a large amount of medium chain fatty acids. For the hypothyroid sufferer the MCFAs in coconut oil speed up the body’s sluggish metabolism and promotes weight loss as well.  MCFAs in coconut oil are digested and absorbed quickly and with minimal effort. Because of this there is less strain on the pancreas, liver and the digestive system.
  12. Sesame oil, almond oil, olive oil and saffflower oil can be used in patients with PCOS . Avoid sunflower oil. Oils can be used only 4 or less tablespoons per day.
  13. Monounsaturated fat containing food choices include: avocado, canola, olive and peanut oils; olives, nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts and pecans; peanut butter, nut butters, sesame oil, seeds and paste.
  14. Omega-3 fatty acid (specifically EPA and DHA) containing food choices include: cold water fish .salmon, (KORA,KAALA).Mackerel (Aikoora),Tuna (Choora),sardines(Mathi, chaala),

Two to three servings of fatty fish/week will provide the 220 mg each of EPA and DHA that is recommended.

  1. Women with PCOS should consume at least 3-4 serving of fruits per day. Fruits such as apple, raspberry, kiwi, pineapple, papaya, melons, blackberry, cherry, guava, apricot, orange, sweetlime, lemon, mandarin, nectarin, pomegranate, plum, peach etc. may be included in your diet. Restrict the use of banana, mango, custard apple, grapes and sapota..
  2. Vegetables are the best source of fiber. Fiber is essential for cutting down fats and reducing the blood cholesterol. They form a bulk in stomach and give an early feeling of satiety. A variety of green leafy vegetables such as Spinach, fenugreek, celery, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower greens, cowpea leaves, mustard leaves may be included. Other vegetables such as eggplant, bottle gourd, pumpkin, bitter gourd, okra, capsicum, radish, broccoli, carrot nourish you with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
  3. Fenugreek(Methi,Uluva,  Trigonella foenumgraecum) promotes excellent glucose metabolism in the body. It improves glucose-tolerance and insulin-sensitivity, thereby promoting weight loss and moderation of androgen levels in blood. It also lowers LDL and increases HDL and supports healthy functioning of the heart. Fenugreek can be used in the treatment of PCOS in the forms of seeds, fresh leaves and dried leaves.   1 tsp. of soaked seeds thrice a day would be a good option, if possible.However, it is very bitter. The seeds should be soaked for at least 6-8 hours to make them soft and chewable. In the form of leaves,  1 cup of cooked fresh leaves once a week would be a good option.  It gives a special flavor to chapattis.  Dried leaves may be used as a seasoning in soups/salads. PCOS patients could include 10-15 grams of dried leaves everyday in their diet.
  4. Cinnamon: Researchers at Columbia University’s Department of Medicine found that women with PCOS who took 1,500 mg of a cinnamon supplement every day for six months began to have more regular menstrual cycles than women receiving a placebo. ½ to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder along with honey could be a good option.   Cinnamon is an anti oxidant, antimicrobial and can reduce cholesterol.
  5. Sesame seeds are loaded with nutrients that are known to be particularly beneficial for women with PCOS. These little seeds area great source of vitamin B6, with half a cup providing more than a quarter of the recommended daily intake for this vitamin. Furthermore, they are an excellent source of plant-based calcium, magnesium and certain healthful fatty acids. On top of that, they provide a very good source of zinc.
    Source: http://www.healwithfood.org/pcos/foods2.php#ixzz2qg3khpbM.
  6. Liquorice: Glycyrrhizin in licorice root has been shown to significantly reduce plasma testosterone, 120 mg of glycyrrhizin daily for two menstrual cycles was found to reduce testosterone levels. frequent consumption of large quantities of licorice may cause high blood pressure, edema, depletion of potassium, headache, heart problems, and other health complications.
  7. Poppy seeds / khus khus can be useful in pcos. Sprinkling poppy seeds on top of a dish can provide calcium , magnesium, calcium, B vitamins and zinc.
  8. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are good for PCOS,



Dr.Shobhana Mohandas.


Web: www.keralagynaecology.com