Best Foods For PCOS: Dates, Fruits, and Vegetables


  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common disorder where the ovaries produce abnormal amounts of androgen.
  • Around 5 to 10% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 will experience PCOS.
  • There are no known treatments for PCOS but there are lifestyle changes that can help improve the symptoms women feel.
  • Knowing how to improve the quality of your diet helps in the management of PCOS.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS )is a disorder that affects many women across the globe. While it can be hard to find the right treatment, certain lifestyle changes may be done to manage PCOS successfully. This is particularly true when it comes to food. The best ones to eat include dates, fruits, and vegetables. In this article, you will find out what you can do to achieve a healthy diet for PCOS. In turn, you may live a better life even with this condition.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where the ovaries produce an abnormal number of androgens, which are the male sex hormones. In an average woman, these hormones are always present. However, they are only in very small amounts. Because of the high amounts of these androgens, the ovaries are prone to developing small collections of fluid. These are known as cysts. Because of this, the ovaries cannot regulate the release of eggs.

The exact cause of this disease is not known. However, it might be dangerous because it can lead to other comorbidities and complications. These include obesity and high blood pressure. It may also lead to diabetes mellitus due to their body’s lower insulin production. Because of this, it may lead to insulin resistance. Because women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of androgens, they may develop other problems associated with males. These include extra hair growth, baldness, acne, and weight gain.

While the main sign of PCOS is having cysts, some women never develop these. In fact, some women without PCOS do. Cysts are abnormal growths that can contain air, fluid, or other substances. These sacs may cause pain in the pelvic region. 

How is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Diagnosed?

Around 5 to 10% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 will have PCOS. However, the most common way for PCOS to be diagnosed happens when women encounter problems when they try to get pregnant. 

Some of the most common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles: for some women, this includes fewer or missed periods. Others may also have heavier and frequent cycles.
  • Too much hair: as mentioned earlier, some women may have more hair on their face, chin, or parts of the body where males have it.
  • Acne: body acne is common. This includes the face, chest, and upper back.
  • Thinning hair or baldness
  • Weight gain
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Excess skin

The risk for developing PCOS is higher if a woman has obesity or a family history of the illness. You may obtain a diagnosis through a physical exam, pelvic exam, pelvic ultrasound, and blood tests. These will check for higher levels of androgen hormones as well as other signs of similar illnesses. These include thyroid diseases.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage PCOS

Since the cause of PCOS is still unknown, treatment may vary from person to person. However, some lifestyle changes can appease symptoms. It may even improve the quality of life.

One of the main ways to treat PCOS is to lose weight. You may lessen your symptoms by controlling your blood sugar and following a PCOS-prescribed diet. Even a moderate amount of weight loss, such as losing 5% of your body weight, can improve your symptoms. PCOS can lead to obesity. This, in turn, increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, because PCOS may lead to insulin resistance. Losing weight can help prevent this. Weight loss may also increase the effectiveness of medications used to treat symptoms, such as infertility.

Another effective way to treat PCOS is to lower the amount of carbohydrates and fat in your diet. Having a diet regimen low in carbs and fat can improve your insulin levels. This allows your blood sugar to drop while also aiding in weight loss. We recommend choosing complex carbohydrates, like whole grains and fiber, over simple ones, like white bread.

Increasing your physical activity is another key factor in staying healthy. At least 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise can promote better weight control. Moving more also allows your body to build more muscle mass. You may do simple things to increase your activity. Habits such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator will help you achieve your goals.

Diet and PCOS

You are probably wondering what foods are good for PCOS. The truth is that a PCOS diet plan is low in carbohydrates. It also aims to reduce your consumption of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. This diet composition will be explained further below.

Research shows that focusing on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help improve weight and blood glucose. It also advises to eat more lean proteins and low fat or fat-free dairy For a PCOS diet, the focus should be on eating healthy fats like olive oil and canola oil. You may also get them through almonds, seeds, walnuts, and avocados. Other healthy fats that are high in protein include nut butters. Lean meats include fish and poultry. We also recommend eating more tofu, beans, and lentils. As with diabetes, protein must be included in all snacks and meals. This is because it can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars.

On the other hand, you may also wonder what fruit is best for PCOS. While there is no one fruit that fits all, we recommend fruits that are anti-inflammatory. This is because they can help prevent or lessen the pain caused by PCOS symptoms. Some of these include berries, apples, cherries, and tomatoes. PCOS meals should contain whole grains, lean meats, and vegetables. You may also include a glass of fat-free dairy and a small cup of fruit.

Certain foods can also worsen your condition. It is best to avoid simple carbohydrates, fried foods, and refined sugar. We also recommend avoiding solid fats and red meats. All of these can increase cholesterol levels and stimulate fat deposits. This in turn can lead to weight gain and an increase in blood sugar levels. 

Dates’ Benefits to PCOS

If you are trying to choose the best foods for PCOS, dates should be at the top of your list. It is true that dates are dry fruits, which means they have more carbohydrates than you desire. However, more importantly, they contain essential nutrients that have many health benefits.

On one hand, dates are rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. They also have a ton of fatty acids and protein. The carbohydrates present in this fruit include sucrose, glucose, and fructose. These makeup about 70% of the energy in dates. Thanks to their sweetness, they can be used as a healthier natural alternative to regular sugar. We recommend adding them to juices, desserts, smoothies, and sauces. 

Unlike other fruits, dates have a low to medium glycemic index. This means that they are absorbed more slowly than other carbohydrates, leading to a lower increase in blood glucose. This is beneficial to everyone suffering from diabetes and high lipid levels. For women with PCOS, they can help prevent or lessen the side effects.

Finally, dates are also a very powerful antioxidant. They are considered anti-inflammatory fruit. PCOS can often lead to chronic pain and inflammation. Therefore,  eating these types of foods can be a part of your treatment plan. If eaten with a balanced diet, it can help improve PCOS  symptoms.

The properties in dates come primarily from their phenolic compounds. These include p-coumaric, ferulic, and sinapic acids. Dates also contain flavonoids and procyanidins. All of these are powerful antioxidants. They may help prevent inflammation. At the same time, dates can be nephron-protective, which means they can help protect your nervous system.  They are also hepato-protective because dates include substances that prevent liver damage. Dates are also anti-microbial and can help prevent tumors. This is especially important as PCOS may lead to cysts that can form tumors. Dates are good for blood glucose control. This means that eating dates could help control blood sugar levels. This in turn will also help you manage your diabetes. More importantly, it can protect your kidneys, liver, and prevent infections. One final benefit of dates to women with PCOS is that this fruit may be able to help regulate sex hormones. This is important because these hormones are imbalanced in this condition.

If you want to eat dates, you can do so without worrying about weight gain. You will still be able to follow the best diet for PCOS. We recommend eating dates with protein or high fiber foods such as salads. You may also add them to beverages as an alternative sweetener.

Summary

Living with PCOS is not easy for most women. It can be extremely painful to experience its signs and symptoms. These side effects may not respond well to regular treatments. Nonetheless, consuming the best foods for PCOS can be a good way to treat the condition. These foods include dates, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Knowing how to change your lifestyle and manage your PCOS diet will help you have a  better quality of life.

Scientific Information

  • Acne – A skin condition common among adolescents and PCOS patients characterized by red pimples. 
  • Androgen – A type of hormone common among men that exhibits male characteristics externally. 
  • Antioxidants – Compounds that can help protect our body from the onset of chronic diseases. 
  • Insulin – The hormone responsible for letting glucose enter your cells to provide them with energy.
  • Ovary – The female reproductive organ that produces egg cells.
  •  
Written by:

Juliana Tamayo, MS

Nutritionist

Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian
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