By : Apeksha Thakkar Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Nutrigenomic Counselor

Nutrition for PCOS

A very common health problem, which affects 6–8% of women of reproductive age. It is caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. PCOS manifests as

Irregular periods, which leads to infertility and development of cysts on the ovaries.

Increased androgen (male hormone) production, which causes irregular periods, acne, thinning scalp hair, and excess hair growth on the face and body, weight gain, mood swings.

Increased insulin resistance; the body can’t use insulin effectively, increasing risk for type 2 diabetes,obesity,and cardiovascular disease.



Why is Nutrition important?

PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances, not only the reproductive hormones but also hormones that regulate blood sugar, fat storage, and appetite.

An effective way to control symptoms associated with PCOS is balancing the hormone levels by consuming nutritious ,high fiber foods.


Obesity is linked to inflammation that can worsen or cause PCOS .Several studies have demonstrated that optimal dietary changes, which manage a healthy weight and reduce inflammation, may be beneficial in alleviating symptoms of PCOS.


Obesity is linked to inflammation that can worsen or cause PCOS .Several studies have demonstrated that optimal dietary changes, which manage a healthy weight and reduce inflammation, may be beneficial in alleviating symptoms of PCOS.




Diet for Lowering the Risk Factors.

The goal of a PCOS diet is weight management, which helps with the regulation of hormone levels, which in turn helps to improve symptoms such as acne, excess hair growth, cycle regularity and fertility.

An extensively studied diet for PCOS includes the 1-2-3 ratio of macronutrients where for every gram of fat consumed, 2 grams of protein is consumed, and 3 grams of carbohydrate. The results from the studies have shown that,1-2-3 ratio is an effective way to reduce insulin, blood glucose levels, stabilize blood lipid levels, increase weight loss and reduce inflammation.




Foods that are beneficial in PCOS

A high-fiber diet lowers insulin levels, and antioxidants which fight to lower inflammation, and better gut bacteria for a healthy immune system.whole grains ,legumes,nuts and seeds,berries etc.

A Low Glycemic Diet contains food that takes less time to digest which helps in maintaining insulin levels. Include food items like whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables ,lean proteins, and everything that is unprocessed .Several studies have shown that low-GI (glycaemic index) foods improve  metabolic risk factors such as insulin sensitivity. 


Eating more lean protein may help weight loss, as well as keeping you fuller for longer.salmon,tuna,skinless chicken and plant protein like beans ,peas,tofu.

Anti-inflammatory die One of the many studies showed that people with PCOS who followed an anti -inflammatory diet for three months lost weight and showed a decrease in cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation.

(DOI: 10.4103/1947-2714.161246)

The best inflammation fighting foods are antioxidants filled  fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats (nuts,flax seeds, avocado,olive oil,safflower oil etc).

Avoid processed and refined foods which wreak havoc on  hormone regulation  ,instead choose natural foods to  balance your hormones.

The DASH diet,generally prescribed for hypertension,can also be beneficial in PCOS as they are rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which leads to greater satiety,improves insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammation.




Lifestyle intervention in PCOS  which includes optimal nutrition and physical activity is key to weight loss  and significantly improves insulin resistance,dyslipidemia  and  menstrual regularity as well as hormonal imbalance and  associated hirsutism (excess growth of hair on face and body  in women).




Instant Sprouts Dhokla (Serves 2)

A healthy, filling snack ,rich in fiber,antioxidants and low in GI which controls blood glucose level,prevents insulin resistance,reduces inflammation and improves digestion.


1 cup sprouted moong

½ cup chopped spinach

1 teaspoon fruit salt

2-3 green chillies chopped

1 tbsp oil

2 tablespoon gram flour (besan)

Salt as per taste

For Tempering

1 tsp sesame seeds (til)

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp finely chopped green chilli

¼ th tsp hing

8-10 curry leaves


Add sprouts, spinach and green chillies in a grinder. Add a little water and grind to make a fine paste.

Transfer the paste into a bowl, add salt, besan and required water to make a batter of pouring consistency.

In a large pan. Add about three-four cups of water and bring to a boil.

To the batter add fruit salt with 2 tsp of water and mix gently.

Pour the batter into a greased thali and spread evenly. Place a rack in the large pan and keep the thali on it

Steam the dhoklas for about 15 minutes or until they are cooked.

For tempering, heat a pan, add oil then add sesame seeds, hing, curry leaves, green chillies and saute for a minute.

Pour the tempering evenly over the dhoklas and set it aside. Cut them into desired shapes once they are slightly cool

Serve them with chutney.

Nutritional value per serving (4 piece)

Energy- 170 kcal

Carbohydrates -31 gms

Protein - 4 gms

Fat - 4 gms

Fiber- 2 gms

What else?

Since most PCOS bearing women are overweight and protein deficit, including GRD Sugarfree protein powder and GRD Lite protein diskettes as quick or mid snacks can take care of right nutrient supply and can help in weight management.

Barnyard Millet Upma (Serves 2)

A simple and tasty upma with a healthy twist ! low in calories and GI ,high in digestible proteins,rich in fiber and iron,this millet is a treasure of nutrients.


½ cup- Barnyard millet (sanwa rice)

1 ½ cups of water

½  cup finely chopped mixed vegetables (carrot,beans,capsicum)

1 tbsp -green peas

1 inch ginger finely chopped

1 or 2 green chillies deseeded and chopped

1 tbsp veg oil

¾ tsp mustard seeds

 ¼  tsp urad dal and 

¼ tsp bengal gram dal

A sprig of curry leaves

Salt to taste


Rinse the millet a couple of times and soak for 10-15 minutes. Drain and keep aside

Heat a kadai,add oil.Add mustard seeds and when they splutter,add the dals and curry leaves and saute.

Add onions,chillies and ginger and saute till onions turn translucent .

Add the vegetables ,stir and cook for a few minutes on low flame.The vegetables should not be overcooked.

Add water and salt and bring to a boil.Then add the millet while stirring continuously.

Cook covered with a lid on a low flame till the water dries up.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and /or freshly grated coconut .Serve hot with chutney.

Nutritional Value for the recipe

Energy- 350  kcal

Carbohydrates -29 gms

Protein - 3.1 gms

Fat - 5.9 gms

Fiber- 4.1 gms


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