Diet and exercise are important components of managing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In particular, people with PCOS must pay attention to how food affects their blood sugar levels. This is because many people with PCOS develop insulin resistance, which means their bodies cannot use insulin effectively.
A PCOS diet can help you manage your condition. Your doctor may help you create a meal plan to help balance hormones and insulin. For example, a low-carb diet may help manage insulin resistance.
Eating carbs can cause an immediate spike in blood sugar, but that doesn’t mean all of them are fasting. For example, fruits contain carbohydrates but are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Therefore, most people do not need to avoid them entirely.
This article explains the types of carbohydrates in fruits. It also explains how to choose fruit if you have PCOS and need to limit carbohydrates.
People with PCOS have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, more than half of PCOS patients will develop diabetes by age 40.
carbohydrates in fruit
The naturally occurring sugar in fruit is different from the sugar you might add to coffee or use in roasting. The latter is sucrose – an easily digestible carbohydrate that enters your bloodstream quickly after you eat it. This leads to a sharp rise in blood sugar and insulin, a concern for people with PCOS.
There are two forms of carbohydrates in fruit. they are:
- Fructose: This is a naturally occurring sugar that is not as easily digested as sucrose. Therefore, it has different effects on the body.
- Fiber: The body uses fiber to break down fructose for energy. It affects blood sugar and insulin levels much more slowly.
In addition to fructose and fiber, fruits are rich in several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients can help improve PCOS and insulin resistance, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer.
For most people, balance is the key to eating fruit.
In addition, longer digestion times mean that fruit is more satiating and satisfying than sugary food and beverage sources. This helps reduce the risk of overconsumption.
As stated in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the exact recommendations for daily fruit intake vary by age. In general, adults should aim for about two cups per day. At least half should come from whole fruit, not 100% juice.
This may be different for you if you have PCOS and are on a low-carb diet. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to determine what is right for your situation.
choose what fruit to eat
Not all fruits react the same way in the body. So when you’re managing PCOS and need to eat fewer carbohydrates, some fruits are better choices than others.
In general, fruits eaten with the skin on tend to have a lower glycemic index (GI). A lower GI means these foods are digested more slowly. This causes your glucose and insulin levels to rise more slowly after eating. These are good options:
Fruit does not contain protein or fat. You may need to add fat or protein to prolong satiety and control blood sugar levels. For example, try pairing apples with nut butter, or with hard-boiled eggs or cheese.
Fruits without edible skins tend to have lower levels of fiber. These include:
In turn, these fruits have a higher GI. These are still healthy, but the glycemic index is an important consideration when choosing which fruit to eat more or less.
Bananas, for example, belong to this group, but they have a medium GI. However, they are rich in potassium, which can regulate blood pressure. Additionally, they are a good source of B vitamins, which help maintain blood sugar levels.
So while bananas may seem like a fruit to avoid, consider limiting portion size or frequency. For example, a large banana counts as two servings of fruit (like eating two apples at once). So instead of eating a whole banana, choose a baby banana or cut a regular-sized banana in half.
It’s important to note that only whole fruit and 100% fruit juice are considered good fruit sources. Also, some foods, like smoothies, may appear healthy but often contain other ingredients and added sugars.
Be sure to check the nutrient content of anything you eat to fully understand what you’re eating.
Why are all fruits different
What is a serving of fruit?
Each of the following is an example of a serving of fruit:
- 1 small apple
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 orange
- 1 large peach
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 cup cherries
- 2 small plums
- 1/2 of a large banana
Eating too many carbohydrates at once can cause glucose and insulin levels to spike. So enjoy a small piece of fruit as a snack between meals. Include fruit in protein-rich, low-carb meals, such as an omelet with strawberries.
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People with PCOS often also have insulin resistance. This puts them at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A low-carb diet is often beneficial for people with PCOS because it can help control hormone and insulin levels. However, since fruit is nutritious and high in carbohydrates, balance is key.
Some fruits are better choices than others. For example, fruits with edible peels, such as apples, pears, and plums, have a lower GI. This means that glucose and insulin levels rise more slowly after eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best diet for PCOS?
A healthy eating plan can help manage PCOS symptoms. Start by choosing a variety of foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy products. Look for healthy fats to add to your diet, such as olive oil, avocado, fish, almonds, and walnuts. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist to help you create a plan that’s right for you.
What foods should PCOS avoid?
Avoid sugary snacks and refined carbohydrates, which can cause imbalances in insulin levels. These include processed foods such as white bread and white rice. You can help improve PCOS symptoms by limiting these foods and replacing them with high-fiber, low-sugar carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread and brown rice.