Can Nutrition Help Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Woman preparing food in the kitchen.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health and appearance. PCOS is also a common and treatable cause of infertility.

Regular exercise, healthy foods, and weight control are the key treatments for PCOS. Treatment can reduce unpleasant symptoms and help prevent long-term health problems. Although there has not been consensus on the optimal diet for PCOS, experts agree that it is important to aim for an overall healthy diet.

Think Fresh and Minimally Processed

Choose a variety of fresh and minimally processed fruits, vegetables, dairy/milk products, and lean protein foods, including nuts and seeds.

Power Bowls are a great way to eat clean with color, crunch and energy-boosting protein.

Choose Whole Grains

Choose whole grains for almost all your grains. This includes 100% whole wheat products, cracked wheat (bulgur), barley, oatmeal, brown rice, low fat popcorn or whole grain com. Less familiar whole grains include amaranth, buckwheat, kamut, millet, quinoa, spelt, teff, and triticale.

Avoid Sweetened Beverages

Hydration is essential for your body. Water is always best the best choice. Try adding a squirt of lemon or lime, or a favorite herb like mint. Milk is also a good choice. Don’t reach for juices, soda, and energy drinks that are high in sugar. Diet soda, while low in calories, are linked to other health problems.

Space Out Meals or Snacks

Have a small meal or snack every 3-5 hours. Include a small amount of lean protein or vegetable with each. This can include one ounce of low-fat cheese or skinless chicken, a half cup of cottage cheese, a container of low sugar yogurt, one cup soy milk, one hard-boiled egg, roman tomatoes, carrots, celery sticks, or one Tablespoon of nuts.

Avoid Hydrogenated/Trans Fats

Hydrogenated and trans fats raise the risk of heart disease. Be sure to check out the ingredients list on food packages before making a purchase.

Choose Fatty Fish

Try to eat fatty fish twice a week (for a total of 8 to 12 ounces) to reap the benefits of omega-3 fats. Good choices include salmon, sardines and herring. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily provides a plant source of omega-3s.

Consume Fiber

Eat at least 25 grams of fiber daily from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Limit Sodium

Don’t consumer more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (salt) daily. Use no-added-salt, reduced sodium, or unsalted products. Limit restaurant meals, as well as processed foods in cans and boxes. Season foods with lemon, garlic, onion, flavored vinegars, herbs, spices, Dash, and other unsalted seasonings.

Consume Soy Protein

Ideally, try to have 25 grams of soy protein each day. Some good sources include tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soy butter, and soy milk.

author name

Meijuan Yan, MD

Meijuan Yan, MD, MS, is an endocrinologist with LG Health Physicians Specialty Medicine. A graduate of Peking Union Medical College, Dr. Yan also received a master’s degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In addition to helping patients manage their diabetes, Dr. Yan treats other endocrine diseases including osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, and low testosterone.

Call: 717-544-3059

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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