11 Foods to Avoid With PCOS

Foods to Avoid With Pcos – Overview

Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, is one of the most common issues among women, which has a huge effect on their health. It can cause severe health conditions like diabetes, psychological and cardiological issues, etc.

Proper diet and treatment are essential to reducing the impact of PCOS on your health. In this article, we will learn about the foods that you need to avoid to reduce symptoms and improve your health.

What Is PCOS and How Does It Affect Your Body?

PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome, can have multiple effects on your body. Some of the most common symptoms are hormonal imbalance, mood swings, irregular periods, hair loss, acne, weight gain, enlarged ovaries, etc. It can cause infertility or miscarriage in women as well.

The actual cause of the condition is still unknown, but this usually appears during the teenage years. PCOS is somewhat related to genetics and hormonal imbalance.

According to different studies, PCOS can put you at risk of developing diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, cardiological problems, heart disease, life issues, and psychological issues like anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, eating disorders, and even cancer.

11 Types of Foods to Avoid With PCOS

Foods to Avoid With PCOS

Foods to Avoid With PCOS – Types of Foods to Avoid

Maintaining a proper diet is essential for women who have PCOS. Your diet can affect your weight management, insulin production, and resistance, which is important for your PCOS condition.

1. Processed Food

Highly processed foods, including those made with refined flour, such as some pastries and bread, can have a high glycemic index and may contribute to insulin resistance, a common issue in PCOS. It’s recommended to choose whole-grain, less processed options where possible. It can increase the production of insulin in your body and develop diabetes.(1)

2. Sugar

Sucrose or sugar consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, which can disrupt insulin regulation of your body and cause inflammation. Excessive intake of fructose can deteriorate your intestine barrier and cause endotoxemia.

3. Carbs

Carbohydrates are categorized as simple or complex, but the focus should be on foods’ glycemic index and glycemic load. Whole, unprocessed carbohydrates with a low to medium glycemic index are better for managing insulin levels in PCOS. Simple carbohydrates, like fructose, glucose, sucrose, etc., are always readily available, whereas complex carbohydrates are the building blocks of any starchy food.

These foods can enter the blood and increase metabolism by digesting glucose. However, increasing glucose in your body can worsen your PCOS by causing insulin resistance.

So it is always better to avoid pasta, french fries, white rice, etc., which are the main sources of carbohydrates to improve your condition.

4. Fried foods

Fried foods are high in calories and unhealthy fats, which may contribute to weight gain and exacerbate insulin resistance. Opting for cooking methods such as baking, grilling, or steaming is healthier for managing PCOS symptoms. Fried foods also raise your blood sugar level and cause bloating. Gastric problems are common among people who eat fried food regularly. All these conditions are harmful to someone with PCOS and deteriorate their health conditions.

5. Red meat

While moderation is key, there is no direct evidence that consumption of red meat significantly affects progesterone levels in women with PCOS. However, a diet high in lean proteins and plant-based foods may support hormone balance and weight management. Progesterone is an essential hormone necessary for a healthy menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

Deficiency of this hormone can cause several problems like mood swings, irregular menstrual cycle, miscarriage, inability to conceive, etc. Red meat also has bad fat that promotes weight gain as well.

6. Alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption can increase testosterone levels and create an imbalance in different hormone levels, which are important for ovulation. This can increase food cravings, leading to weight gain and sometimes nutritional deficiency.

7. Processed Meat

Processed meat, like salami and hot dogs, contains saturated fats and sodium, which may result in weight gain. It can also cause inflammation in some cases and create a hormonal imbalance.

8. Dairy Products

The impact of dairy on androgen levels is not clear-cut and may vary among individuals with PCOS. Some may find that reducing dairy intake helps manage their symptoms, but it’s essential to ensure adequate calcium and vitamin D intake from other sources. This hormonal imbalance can be harmful to women with PCOS. They should avoid dairy products like cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.(2)

9. Soy

Soy products contain phytoestrogens, but their effect on the body’s estrogen production and PCOS symptoms can vary widely. Moderate consumption of soy products is generally considered safe for most women with PCOS, but individual responses can differ. It will lead to severe hormonal imbalance and increase the symptoms of PCOS. Soy products can also affect the thyroid gland, resulting in weight gain, bloating, etc.

10. Unhealthy Fats

Foods like cakes, butter, and cookies have unhealthy fats that can promote heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc. It can increase the estrogen level and create an imbalance.

11. Fruits to Avoid With PCOS

Certain fruits, like oranges, bananas, pineapples, and melons, do not have edible skin. Their fiber content is very low. They also have a higher glycemic index, which can increase blood glucose levels and cause severe harm.


While some fruits have a higher glycemic index, they are also rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Instead of avoiding them entirely, women with PCOS should focus on portion sizes and pairing fruits with proteins or healthy fats to balance blood sugar levels.

See Also

Fatty Liver Diet

Acid Reflux Foods to Avoid

Foods to Avoid With an Ulcer

Gallbladder Diet

3 Days Cleanse to Lose Belly Fat

Foods to Strengthen Lungs

Current Version
September 23, 2022
Written By
January 18, 2024
Updated By
Franco Cuevas, MD