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I’ve heard it. You’ve probably heard it. Everyone says that sugar is one of the worst foods for PCOS.
But fruit has sugar, so does that mean that you can’t have fruit? Or maybe only certain fruits?
And then comes the question, “But fruit is healthy, right?”
There’s a ton of conflicting information on the internet about PCOS nutrition.
That’s why we’ve created this resource to help you sift through the information about fruit and PCOS.
In this article, we will be discussing how fruit can affect blood sugar management for people with PCOS, discussing the benefits of various PCOS fruits, and answer some common questions about eating fruit when you have PCOS.
Let’s get started!
Insulin resistance and PCOS
Insulin is a hormone that allows sugar to move from your blood stream into your cells. When you have insulin resistance, sugar cannot enter your cells as easily. This can lead to increased insulin in your bloodsteam and higher blood sugar levels.
While insulin resistance is not required for a PCOS diagnosis, people with PCOS are at higher risk for insulin resistance.
Fruit and Insulin Resistance
Blood sugar balance is important piece of PCOS management.
All foods that give you energy, otherwise known as macronutrients, will falling into one (or more) categories:
Of these three macronutrients, carbohydrates are the only one that will raise your blood sugar.
Carbs typically provide most of the energy in our diets. Carbohydrates can be found in the following foods:
- Grains: breads, rice, tortillas, pastas, cereals, etc.
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, peas, corn, beans, butternut squash
Fruit contains the natural sugars glucose and fructose, which will raise your blood sugar.
Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and Blood Sugar
Glycemic index is frequently referenced when looking at blood sugar management. It can be a useful tool, but only shows a piece of the picture.
Glycemic index assigns a number to a food based on how quickly it raises blood sugar in comparison to a piece of white bread or pure sugar (glucose).
However, it does not take the serving size into consideration, nor does it account for any foods that you eat with it. The glycemic index can also vary significantly depending on the type or brand of a food.
Eating foods with protein, fat, and fiber can help slow down how quickly your blood sugar raises.
For example, the mango glycemic index is 42 and the glycemic load of 6. However, the egg glycemic index is 0 and the glycemic load is also 0.
Eating a breakfast consisting of an omelet and mango can help reduce the blood sugar spike from mango alone.
On the other hand, glycemic load is a number that includes the serving size and the glycemic index for a more accurate prediction of how quickly a food will increase your blood sugar.
Glycemic index and glycemic load are just tools that can be helpful to understand how blood sugars may be affected by individual foods.
But can also make blood sugar management unneccarily complicated. You don’t have to learn glycemic index and glycemic load to have health insulin and blood sugar levels. We just wanted to address it because it is a commonly asked question.
All of that being said, use glycemic index or glycemic load if you find it helpful. If you find that it makes food too complicated, don’t worry about it.
Are there fruits to avoid in PCOS?
People with PCOS do not need to avoid any specific fruits.
Fruit contains vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients provide a host of health benefits.
Yes, they’ll raise your blood sugar. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
When people eat, their blood sugar will increase. That is a normal part of eating, both for people with insulin resistance and those without any blood sugar issues.
The goal is to balance blood sugars.
What we want to avoid is a blood sugar rollercoaster. When you eat only carbs at a meal or snack, your blood sugar will quickly raise.
Then your blood sugar will quickly drop, leading you to feel tired and hungry.
On the other hand, protein, fat, and fiber can help provent blood sugar spikes.
Eating fruit can be helpful if you have PCOS. Pair the fruit with a source of protein or fat to help slow down how quickly your blood sugar rises and falls.
PCOS Fruits: Qualities of Fruits and How They Affect PCOS
Generally speaking, foods that are good for PCOS are foods that will help either:
- Balance blood sugars
- Lower inflammation
- Contain phytonutrients that help support cellular processes or prevent chronic disease
So let’s dive in!
PCOS Fruit List
Below is a PCOS fruit list showing the beneficial components of several common fruits.
Papaya for PCOS
Papaya contains magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and lycopene.
According to the USDA, a one cup serving of papaya has 68 mcg of vitamin A and 2,650 mcg of lycopene, 264 mg of potassium, and 30 mg of magnesium.
Vitamin A and lycopene both have antioxidative qualities. Because PCOS has an inflammatory component, papaya could be a great fruit to incorporate into your PCOS diet.
Pineapple for PCOS
Pineapple is a great source of vitamin C. One cup of pineapple contains 79mg (105% of the RDA), meaning that a single cup of pineapple provides all of the vitamin C that you need for a day.
Vitamin C helps maintain healthy skin, connective tissues, and blood vessels.
It is also an antioxidant, which may help protect the body from free radical damage. It is suspected that free radicals may be involved in the development of heart disease and cancer.
In addition to vitamin C, 1 cup of pineapple also contains the following nutrients:
- 2 grams fiber
- 21mg calcium
- 20mg magnesium
- 180mg potassium
- 30mg folate
Mango for PCOS
Mango is high in beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A and also functions as an antioxidant. One cup of mango offers 1060 mcg of beta-carotene, which may help protect your body from free radical damage. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002400.htm
According to the USDA, 1 cup of mango also contains the following:
- 25 grams carbohydrates
- 3 grams fiber
- 18mg calcium
- 16mg magnesium
- 277mg potassium
- 60mg of vitamin C
- 71mcg folate
Watermelon for PCOS
Watermelon contains a carotenoind called lycopene, which is responsible for producing its red color in foods like tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon. Lycopene is an antioxidant that may promote heart health and reduce the risk of certain cancers. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/lycopene
According to the USDA, 1 cup of watermelon contains the following nutrients:
- 11 grams carbohydrates
- 170mg potassium
- 865 IU vitamin A
- 6890mcg lycopene
Grapes for PCOS
Grapes contain a variety of nutrients that have been discussed throughout this article, including beta-carotene, lutein + zeaxanthin, and potassium.
One cup of grapes contains:
- 16 grams carbs
- 176mg potassium
- 54mcg beta-carotene
- 92 IU vitamin A
- 66mcg lutein + zeaxanthin
Guava for PCOS
Another great source of vitamin C!
One cup of guava contains 376mg of vitamin C, which is 501% of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance). It would also provide the following nutrient:
- 23 grams carbs
- 9 grams fiber
- 688 mg potassium
- 376 mg vitamin C
- 1030 IU vitamin A
- 8580 mcg lycopene
Kiwi for PCOS
Kiwi contains the two carotenoind called lutein and zeaxanthin, which function as antioxidants. While leafy green vegetables are usually the best sources of these nutrients, 2 kiwis contain a total of 183 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Below are other nutrients found in kiwi (1 serving= 2 kiwis):
- 21 grams carbs
- 4 grams fiber
- 496 mg potassium
- 112 mg vitamin C
- 40 mcg folate
Strawberry for PCOS
Strawberries are another great source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
According to the USDA, one cup of strawberries contains:
- 11 grams carbs
- 3 grams fiber
- 88mg vitamin C
- 230mg potassium
- 10mcg beta-carotene
- 39 mcg lutein + zeaxanthin
Banana for PCOS
Bananas are a good source of potassium and magnesium.
Magnesium helps support your body on a cellular level. It helps with bone health, immune support, and managing blood sugar levels.
Potassium is a mineral that is also needed for cellular function. Low intake of potassium has been associated with high blood pressure and higher blood sugars. Therefore, it is important to eat plenty of high potassium foods.
One medium sized banana contains 422 mg of potassium and 32 mg of magnesium, as well as the following nutrients:
- 27 grams carbs
- 3 grams fiber
- 23mg folate
- 26mg lutein + zeaxanthin
- 75 IU vitamin A
Pears for PCOS
Pears are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which each offer unique health benefits.
Insoluble fiber helps promote digestive regularity, especially if you struggle with constipation.
Soluble fiber may help lower cholesterol levels. This type of fiber turns into a gel-like substance in your intestines. This gel then binds to cholesterol, allowing it to be eliminated through stool rather than absorbed through the bloodstream.
Because pears contain both forms of fiber, they make a great addition to a PCOS diet.
In addition, 1 medium pear contains:
- 27 grams carbs
- 5 grams fiber
- 12mg magnesium
- 206 mg potassium
- 12mcg folate
- 44IU vitamin A
- 78mg lutein + zeaxanthin
Dry fruits for PCOS
What about dried fruit?
Dried fruit can also be an effective way to get nutrients and will last a lot longer than fresh fruit. Drying fruit just removes the water, making a chewier snack.
Something to keep in mind is that water is a primarily component of most fruits. When the water is removed, the volume of the fruit will also decrease significantly.
For example, one cup of grapes is about 16 grams of carbohydrates. On the other hand, 1 oz of raisins (think the small individual boxes) is about 22 grams of carbohydrates.
Generally speaking, either is a great way to add some extra fruit into your day. The dried fruit may just feel less filling because the serving is smaller.
Also, check the ingredient list on your dried fruit. Sometimes there is some added sugar to help increase the sweetness of dried fruits. You’ll want to look for a product that only contains the fruit.
Are smoothies good for PCOS?
Smoothies can be a great way to pack in lots of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients into a single glass.
Because of the natural sugar in fruit, smoothies can raise your blood sugar quickly.
If you are making a smoothie, be mindful of how much fruit you are adding.
Foods low in carbohydrates can also make great additions to smoothies, such as spinach, nut butters, or flax seeds. These can provide blood sugar-balancing properties while also adding more volume to you smoothie.
As you can see, it’s not as simple as counting carbs. And there are not any fruits that you need to avoid.
Fruit offers vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that they help support your body through PCOS as well as promoting your overall health.