Foods PCOS Women Should Be Eating More Of

How Whole Foods Can Heal PCOS

Foods Women with PCOS should eat more of
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As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who provides nutrition counseling to women with PCOS, I have heard it all when it comes to women’s relationships with food. I hear from women who avoid food groups because they think they aren’t good for them. Some women fear eating fruits because they contain carbohydrates. Others fear foods with fat in them because they perceive them as fattening. Instead of focusing on foods that they shouldn’t be eating, women with PCOS should focus on foods that they should eat because they can help beat the symptoms of PCOS.

The foods women should be eating more of are whole foods.

What are Whole Foods?

Whole foods are foods that have been processed or refined as little as possible and are free from additives or other artificial substances. This includes fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes (lentils), whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fats.

A study published in Hormone and Metabolic Research showed that women with PCOS who followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan lost abdominal fat and showed significant improvements in insulin resistance and inflammation markers. The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and is low in saturated fats and cholesterol, refined grains, sodium and sweets.

Health Benefits Of Whole Foods

What’s so special about whole foods? Whole foods contain the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that help:

  • Improve skin
  • Strengthen hair
  • Improve mood


While fruits are carbohydrates, most of them are low in glycemic index. Aim for at least 2 servings of them each day.

To eat more fruits, keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table or counter, refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later or buy frozen fruit to blend in smoothies. Enjoy fruit for snacks or add them to your meals: top oatmeal with blueberries or add grapes or apples to a salad.


Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables each day to maximize health. To include more vegetables in your diet, make have your plate veggies at most meals, stock up on frozen vegetables, and buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Vary your veggie choices to keep your meals interesting. Enjoy vegetables for snacks or add them to meals:  Mix your favorite vegetables into omelets or frittatas, toss a handful of leafy greens into a smoothie, or add them to stir-fry’s or soups.

Beans and Legumes

For optimal health, have a few servings (1/2 cup each) of beans and legumes like lentils each week. Purchase canned, dried or ready to eat varieties of beans. To add these to your meals, top a salad with chickpeas, add black beans or white kidney beans to soups, prepare main dishes that are meatless such as taco salads, bean burgers, or falafels.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are “slow carbs” that are low in glycemic index so they won’t spike up your glucose and insulin levels.

Examples include brown or wild rice, rolled oats, bulgur, quinoa, and buckwheat. To incorporate more of these foods, substitute whole grain products for the refined ones, try quinoa or rolled oats for a hot breakfast, add whole grains such as faro, quinoa, or bulgur to soups, use rolled oats as breading for baked chicken or fish.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats include olive oil and olives, nuts and nut butters, avocados, seeds, eggs, and fish. To incorporate more of these fats in your diet, use olive oil for cooking or as a base for homemade dressings, eat nuts for snacks or toss into a stir-fry, dip fruit in nut butters, add avocado to eggs, sandwiches and salads and eat omega-3 rich fish (salmon, tuna, trout) twice a week or more.

For recipes that use whole foods, The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Beat PCOS is now available at


Asemi Z, Esmaillzadeh A.DASH Diet, Insulin Resistance, and Serum hs-CRP in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Horm Metab Res. 2014.

Amany Alsayed Salama, Ezzat Khamis Amine, Hesham Abd Elfattah Salem, and Nesrin Kamal Abd El Fattah. Anti-Inflammatory Dietary Combo in Overweight and Obese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. N Am J Med Sci. 2015 Jul; 7(7): 310–316.

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