What is the best fruit for PCOS? There isn’t a single “best” fruit that you should only be eating when you have Polycystic ovary syndrome or insulin resistance. You can really incorporate any fruit you like into your PCOS diet plan.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to eat the fruit you enjoy and the health reasons of why you want to include fruit in a PCOS diet.
Table of contents
- Understanding the Impact of Fruits on PCOS
- Best Fruit for PCOS- Low Glycemic Index Fruits for PCOS
- Glycemic Load and its Importance for PCOS
- PCOS Fruits to Avoid
- Incorporating Fruit in a PCOS Diet
- What counts as a serving of fruit?
- Final thoughts…
Understanding the Impact of Fruits on PCOS
All carbohydrates, including fruit, will have some effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels.
However, the goal with a healthy, sustainable PCOS diet is not to eliminate all carbs, like fruit. A low carb diet for PCOS usually doesn’t work in the low term.
That is why it’s important to learn how to incorporate all foods into your PCOS diet. Because we have all experienced the effect of following a super restrictive diet…binging and cravings.
Benefits of fruits for PCOS:
Fruits are nutrient-dense and offer various advantages for individuals with PCOS, including:
- Fiber: Fruits, particularly fiber-rich ones, are often lacking in the PCOS diet. Incorporating fruits helps increase fiber intake, supporting gut health and aiding in blood sugar regulation.
- Vitamin and minerals: Fruits provide essential vitamins and minerals help improve PCOS symptoms, fertility and overall health and wellbeing
- Antioxidants and phytochemicals: The combination of antioxidants and phytochemicals found in fruits helps combat inflammation, a key driver of PCOS symptoms.
- Enjoyment and pleasure in eating: Including fruits in your diet adds variety, enjoyment, and pleasure to your meals, making it easier to sustain a healthy eating plan.
Fruit, just like other complex carbohydrates, needs to be balanced with protein and healthy fats to blunt the effect on blood sugar and insulin levels.
Insulin resistance, fruit and PCOS
Insulin resistance is very common in PCOS and is usually the driver of most PCOS symptoms.
Improving insulin resistance, through diet and lifestyle changes, can help with weight loss or achieving a healthy weight that is right for you.
Diets that include fruit like the Dash Diet for PCOS, Mediterranean Diet and Low glycemic index diet, have all been shown to help improve insulin resistance (1,
Inflammation, fruit and PCOS
The other important reason to include fruit in your PCOS diet is to help reduce inflammation. The combination of fiber, vitamins/minerals and antioxidants in PCOS fruits help reduce inflammation in the body, which is a driver of PCOS symptoms.
To learn more about the PCOS diet, check out this article on a PCOS Food List.
Best Fruit for PCOS- Low Glycemic Index Fruits for PCOS
The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of foods with carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar (glucose) levels after eating.
Here are the glycemic index categories:
Low GI: 55 or less
Medium GI: 56–69
High GI: 70 or higher
Low glycemic index foods produce smaller fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin. They are generally lower in starch and sugar and higher in fiber.
Lower glycemic foods can help normalize blood sugar levels by preventing blood sugar spikes along with the corresponding surges of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that modulates blood sugar levels.
List of fruits good for PCOS:
- Banana (not overly ripe)
This is not an exhaustive list of best fruits for PCOS but it give you an idea of some of the lower glycemic index fruits.
Glycemic Load and its Importance for PCOS
The glycemic load (GL) is also a measure of how foods impact blood sugar but it considers the serving size of the food, not just the food itself. For example, watermelon has a high GI score, but per serving has a lower glycemic load. Glycemic load gives you a more complete picture of how foods impact your blood sugar.
Here is the formula for calculating glycemic load with an example:
Glycemic index x grams carbohydrate / 100
Watermelon: GI = 80, serving = 11 g [1 cup]
80 x 11/100 = 9 or low GL
Here are the glycemic index categories:
High GL: 20 or higher
Medium GL: 11–19
Low GL:10 or less
PCOS Fruits to Avoid
The only reason you would maybe want to avoid certain fruits with PCOS is due to the packaging or processing of the fruits.
- Avoid fruits that are canned in heavy syrup as that adds more sugar.
- Choose frozen fruits without any added sugar as well.
- Avoid fruit juices as the fiber is removed.
- Try to consume fruits with their skin to help increase the fiber and reduce the effect on blood sugar levels.
- Avoid eating fruits by themselves- without any protein, healthy fats or other sources of fiber.
Incorporating Fruit in a PCOS Diet
Hopefully, you now see how ADDING fruit into your diet when you have PCOS is beneficial, especially in helping to improve insulin resistance, balance blood sugars, improve gut health and reduce inflammation.
When incorporating PCOS friendly fruit into your diet, I still recommend following my formula of:
Fiber + Protein + Healthy Fats
It’s important to ALWAYS combine a carbohydrate with a source fiber, protein and/or healthy fats to reduce the effect on insulin and blood sugar levels.
Fruit is considered “the fiber”, which is why it is recommended to consume whole fruit vs fruit juices. Dried fruit is also okay, but you just need to watch portion sizes.
Ideas for pairing fruit with protein and/or healthy fats
- Apple and nut butter
- Peaches and pistachios
- Banana with peanut butter and hemp seeds
- Grapes or pineapple with cottage cheese
- Strawberries with fresh mozzarella
- Fruit blended with yogurt, protein powder, leafy greens and seeds like chia, hemp or flax seeds.
- Fruit with a cheese stick
- Dried cherries, walnuts and dark chocolate chips
Check out my article on 55 PCOS Snack Ideas to inspire you!
What counts as a serving of fruit?
A serving of fruit is generally ½ cup to 1 cup or around 15 grams of carbohydrates, depending on the fruit.
I recommend between 15-45 grams of carbs per meal for my clients with PCOS, so a serving of fruit can easily be incorporated into a meal.
General serving sizes of fruit for PCOS:
- 1 small apple, orange, peach, pear
- 1/2 banana or 1 mini banana
- 4 apricots, fresh
- 1 Tbsp. raisins
- ¾ cup blueberries
- 1¼ cup strawberries
- 1 cup melon cubes or 1 slice
- ½ grapefruit, large
- 1 cup (about 12) grapes
- 2 plums
- ¾ cup pineapple
- 1 ¼ cup watermelon
What is the best fruit for PCOS?
There isn’t one best fruit for PCOS but if you choose a lower glycemic index fruit and pair it with a source of protein and/or healthy fats you will help reduce the effect on blood sugar levels.
What are the best berries for PCOS?
All berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries) are great choices for PCOS. They are great sources of fiber, antioxidants and are low glycemic index fruits.
Is mango good for PCOS?
Mango is good for PCOS as it is a low/moderate glycemic index fruit that is full of vitamins like Vitamin C, minerals like copper and folate, and antioxidants and polyphenols that help reduce inflammation and cancer risk.
Are green grapes good for PCOS?
Green grapes are good for PCOS because they are high in fiber, high in potassium which helps improve blood pressure. They also contain resveratrol which has been shown to reduce androgen levels and improve insulin sensitivity (2)
Are bananas good for PCOS?
Yes, bananas are good for PCOS. They are a low glycemic index food and add natural sweetness to a lot of baked goods.
It’s important to remember what a portion size of banana is so you don’t over do it on the carbs. Generally ½ a large banana or 1 small banana. Also make sure to pair it with a protein and healthy fat.
My favorite is a banana with peanut butter, hemp seeds, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.
Are oranges good for PCOS?
Yes, oranges are good for PCOS. They are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and folate, which is essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Are red apples good for PCOS?
Red apples or any color apple is good for PCOS. Apples are a great portable snack and provide about 4 grams of fiber. Try to eat it with the skin for that extra fiber.
Is pomegranate good for PCOS?
Pomegranate is good for PCOS. It’s one of the highest antioxidant fruits which will help reduce inflammation in PCOS. Eating the pomegranate seeds, called arils, increases fiber intake.
Is fruit bad for PCOS?
No, fruit is not bad for PCOS. Fruit provides essential nutrients, fiber and antioxidants to your diet. Diets that can help improve PCOS symptoms and metabolic concerns like the DASH diet, Mediterranean Diet and Low Glycemic index diet, all promote intake of whole fruits in the diet.
Incorporating fruits into your PCOS diet can provide essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants while helping manage blood sugar levels and reducing inflammation.
Choose lower glycemic index fruits and pair them with protein and healthy fats to achieve optimal blood sugar control.
By following a balanced approach and incorporating fruits wisely, you can enjoy the benefits of these delicious and nutritious foods while improving your health and manage PCOS symptoms.