Many people with PCOS have insulin resistance and may be curious about fruits for PCOS. Across the internet there are “good” and “bad” fruits for PCOS lists but what does the evidence say?
Find out more about the impact of fruit on PCOS and let’s myth-bust common misconceptions about fruits for PCOS.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone disorder that affects 1 in 10 people with ovaries. PCOS is linked to insulin resistance, which is considered both a driver and a symptom of PCOS.
PCOS and insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is prevalent in up to 80% of people with PCOS, no matter their body shape or size. Insulin resistance is when the body’s tissues are resistant to the effects of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that manages the amount of glucose (sugar) we have in our bloodstream.
Insulin resistance is believed to be so prevalent in people with PCOS because raised androgen levels reduce one’s sensitivity to insulin.
Carbohydrate cravings are often a common consequence of insulin resistance. This is because although carbohydrates are being consumed, your body isn’t being “fed” the glucose as it stays in the bloodstream.
Carbohydrates and fruit
Firstly, it is important to clarify that carbohydrates are not bad for you. In fact, carbohydrates are essential for human functioning alongside protein and fats.
Fruits are primarily made up of carbohydrates. Fruits contain two types of carbohydrates:
- Fructose: fructose, also known as fruit sugar, is a simple sugar found in many plants. It is absorbed directly into the blood of the portal vein by the gut during digestion.
- Fibre: fibre is a type of carbohydrate found naturally in plant foods. Fibre cannot be digested in your small intestine and instead is completely or partially digested by bacteria in the large intestine.
Are fruits good or bad for PCOS?
Because of the link between insulin resistance and PCOS, many people worry that they cannot enjoy any form of fruit, because of the carbohydrate content.
But, in fact, fruit contains many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Despite all the fearmongering out there, fruit can be extremely health-promoting. In fact, the majority of people aren’t eating enough fruits, with only 1 in 10 Americans eating the recommended daily amount.
Fruit also contains fibre which slows down the rate of the absorption of fructose into the bloodstream. This can help prevent blood sugar spikes and the associated symptoms. Fibre also plays an important role in our gut health and there are increased links between gut health and PCOS.
How to eat fruit if you have PCOS
Here at The PCOS Collective, we take a food freedom approach to PCOS management. This means we don’t agree with restrictive, overcomplicated approaches to symptom management.
This means that we believe that all food can fit and you have complete autonomy to enjoy the foods you want to eat.
In terms of insulin resistance and PCOS, if you do notice symptoms of insulin resistance such as Acanthosis Nigricans, skin tags, extreme carbohydrate cravings, fatigue, increased thirst or tingling sensations in the hands and/or feet then you may want to consider implementing some gentle nutrition tips.
This means that you may choose to make small tweaks or additions in your diet if it feels good to you. For example, you may choose to combine high-carbohydrate fruits with a source of protein and fat.
Combining high carbohydrate foods like dried fruits, overripe bananas and mangoes for example, with protein and fat can help prevent blood glucose spikes and may improve symptoms of insulin resistance, and therefore could impact your PCOS.
An example of this would be rather than having mango alone, combining it with yoghurt and topping it with nuts and seeds to boost the fat and protein content. Or maybe try making a trail mix with raisins, chocolate chips and peanuts rather than having raisins alone.
Gentle nutrition is all about finding ways of eating that make you and your body feel good, rather than feeling restricted.
What are the best fruits for PCOS?
All fruits are filled with nutrients that are beneficial for overall health and support symptoms of PCOS.
All fruits contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including folate, vitamin C and potassium. They are also a great source of fibre which is linked to improving gut health and even linked to improving symptoms of PCOS.
Fruits high in soluble fibre such as apples or pears may be even more beneficial for people with PCOS. This is because soluble fibre is associated with a reduction in cholesterol which is often raised in people with PCOS.
List of best fruits for PCOS
We have compiled a list of fruits high in fibre which may be considered the best fruits for PCOS:
- Pears (5.5g per pear)
- Strawberries (2g per 100g)
- Avocado (13.5g per medium avocado)
- Blackberries (5g per 100g)
- Apples (4.4g per medium apple)
- Prunes (7g per 100g)
- Pomegranate seeds (3.48g per half a cup)
- Oranges (2.8g per orange)
- Kiwi (2.1g per kiwi)
- Pineapple (1.4g per 100g)
- Figs (5g per 3-5 figs)
- Peaches (2g per medium peach)
FAQ: fruits for PCOS
Are there fruits to avoid in PCOS?
All foods fit if you have PCOS. But certain fruits like preserved fruits in syrup and dried fruits like raisins and dates do tend to have higher sugar levels compared to their fibre content so you may want to enjoy these fruits with protein and fats to prevent blood sugar spikes.
What are the best dry fruits for PCOS?
There is no one best dry fruit for PCOS. Raisins, dates, dried figs and dried apricots can all be enjoyed if you have PCOS. You may want to try combining dried fruits with proteins and fats to prevent blood sugar spikes, if that feels good to you.
Can I drink fruit juice?
Yes, fruit juice can be a great way to digest vitamins, minerals and antioxidants quickly. It is important to mention that the process of jucing often removes the dietary fibre from the fruits.
This means that the sugar: fibre ratio is often skewed and may contribute to blood sugar spikes and could have a knock-on effect on blood glucose levels.
Enjoy juice with meals, or even try a fibre-filled smoothie for PCOS symptom management instead!
How much fruit should I consume daily?
Key takeaways: fruits for PCOS
Our approach to nutrition, diet and food for people with PCOS is that all foods fit. And the same is true for fruits for PCOS. If you choose to, you can implement gentle nutrition tips like eating fruits in their whole form to ensure the fibre isn’t lost or combining fruits with fats and proteins to prevent blood glucose spikes. Enjoy your fruit!
Founder and Editor | Registered Associate Nutritionist
Founder of Be The Collective LTD [The PCOS Collective & The Endo Collective] Alex Okell ANutr is a London-based reproductive health nutritionist with experience in research, private practice and digital media. She holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition from King’s College London and has co-authored papers with the University of Cambridge, King’s College London, The Food Foundation and the Food Standards Agency. Alex offers 1:1 PCOS support in our virtual PCOS clinic.