Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that causes hormonal imbalances and problems with metabolism.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common health condition experienced by of childbearing age. PCOS can also lead to other serious health challenges, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, depression, and increased risk of endometrial cancer.

Some has shown that diet can help reduce the impact of PCOS. Learn more about a PCOS diet in this article.

Vegan meal with chickpeas, quinoa, sweet potato, avocado, lime, and high fiber vegetables and legumes for pcos diet
A diet that includes high-fiber foods may benefit people with PCOS.

Two of the primary ways that diet affects PCOS are weight management and insulin production and resistance.

However, insulin plays a significant role in PCOS, so managing insulin levels with a PCOS diet is one of the best steps people can take to manage the condition.

Many people with PCOS have insulin resistance. In fact, more than of those with PCOS develop diabetes or pre-diabetes before the age of 40. Diabetes is directly related to how the body processes insulin.

Following a diet that meets a person's nutritional needs, maintains a healthy weight, and promotes good insulin levels can help people with PCOS feel better.

has found that what people eat has a significant effect on PCOS. That said, there is currently no standard diet for PCOS.

However, there is widespread agreement about which foods are beneficial and seem to help people manage their condition, and which foods to avoid.

Three diets that may help people with PCOS manage their symptoms are:

A found that obese women who followed a specially-designed DASH diet for 8 weeks saw a reduction in insulin resistance and belly fat compared to those that did not follow the same diet.

A healthful PCOS diet can also include the following foods:

  • natural, unprocessed foods
  • high-fiber foods
  • fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel
  • kale, spinach, and other dark, leafy greens
  • dark red fruits, such as red grapes, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries
  • broccoli and cauliflower
  • dried beans, lentils, and other legumes
  • healthful fats, such as olive oil, as well as avocados and coconuts
  • nuts, including pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios
  • dark chocolate in moderation
  • spices, such as turmeric and cinnamon

looking at a range of healthful diet plans found the following slight differences. For example:

  • Individuals lost more weight with a diet emphasizing mono-unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats. An example of this kind of diet is the anti-inflammatory diet, which encourages people to eat plant-based fats, such as olive and other vegetable oils.
  • People who followed a low-carbohydrate or a low-GI diet saw improved insulin metabolism and lower cholesterol levels. People with PCOS who followed a low-GI diet also reported a better quality of life and more regular periods.

In general, that losing weight helps women with PCOS, regardless of which specific kind of diet they follow.

Common PCOS symptoms include:

  • acne
  • extra hair growth
  • weight gain, especially around the belly
  • oily skin
  • irregular periods
  • discomfort in the pelvic area
  • difficulty getting pregnant

Many people who experience these symptoms may not consider them serious enough to discuss with a doctor. Many people do not seek medical help until they have trouble conceiving.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should discuss their concerns with a doctor: the sooner they can begin a treatment plan the sooner they can feel better.