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Best PCOS Grocery List & Pantry Staples, According to a Dietitian

Published on
Updated on
Best PCOS Grocery List & Pantry Staples, According to a Dietitian

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormone disorder where the ovaries and adrenal glands produce higher-than-normal levels of male hormones. 
  • Lifestyle changes may improve PCOS symptoms, which include diet and level of physical activity. 
  • If you want to eat more foods that support healthy hormone function, try following our PCOS grocery list the next time you go shopping.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone disorder affecting women of reproductive age.

The ovaries and adrenal glands produce higher-than-normal testosterone levels, causing acne, excess hair growth, receding hairlines, changes to menstrual cycles, weight gain, and sometimes cysts on the ovaries. 

It’s unclear what causes PCOS, but there are several evidence-based strategies you can follow to manage your symptoms.

These include following a nutritious diet, being physically active, and sometimes taking medication such as birth control. 

Keep reading to learn more about the link between diet and PCOS, and try using our PCOS grocery list the next time you go food shopping.

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How Does Diet Affect PCOS?

PCOS is a chronic condition, and choosing nourishing foods proven to support your health is fundamental for your well-being.

Pillars of PCOS care include maintaining healthy insulin function, reducing inflammation, and finding joy in food. 

People with PCOS are at an increased risk of insulin resistance.

Insulin is a hormone that helps your body regulate glucose (a type of sugar) in the bloodstream.

Most people can manage their health by routinely eating whole foods, choosing healthy fats such as omega-3s, and regularly enjoying fiber-rich foods to support stable blood sugar levels. 

Some foods in your diet can reduce inflammation, another cornerstone for PCOS care.

These include foods rich in antioxidants, made with high-quality ingredients, and containing various minerals and vitamins.

Reducing inflammation may decrease the risk of PCOS complications, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. 

There’s no such thing as a perfect diet, but following a plan that includes delicious and balanced meals and snacks is a great place to start. 

Easy PCOS Grocery List to Help Balance Your Hormones

Here are foods you can include in your following grocery list.

You’ll probably recognize most of them, but if there’s something new to you—ask your dietitian how to prepare it at your next appointment. 

Per the USDA nutrition guidelines, a healthy diet includes foods that celebrate your culture, fit within your budget, and appeal to your taste preferences.

You can still eat sweets and other tasty treats while managing PCOS, but moderation is essential for managing your symptoms. 

Animal Protein

  • Chicken. 
  • Turkey. 
  • Duck. 
  • Extra-lean ground meats, including chicken, turkey, or beef.
  • Salmon. 
  • Sardines. 
  • Tuna. 
  • Tilapia.
  • Haddock. 
  • Catfish. 
  • Trout. 
  • Mussels. 
  • Clams. 
  • Scallops. 
  • Canned fish. 

Plant-based Protein 

  • Lentils. 
  • Kidney beans. 
  • Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans.) 
  • Navy beans. 
  • Black beans. 
  • White beans. 
  • Romano beans. 
  • Pinto beans. 
  • Fava beans. 
  • Mung beans. 
  • Black-eyed peas. 
  • Lupini beans. 
  • Tofu. 
  • Tempeh.
  • Edamame.  

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Vegetables

  • Kale.
  • Spinach.
  • Collard greens.  
  • Carrots. 
  • Beets. 
  • Sweet potatoes. 
  • Onions. 
  • Garlic. 
  • Bell peppers. 
  • Cabbage (all varieties). 
  • Cucumber. 
  • Zucchini. 
  • Squashes. 
  • Eggplant. 
  • Endive. 
  • Lettuce. 
  • Mushrooms. 
  • Tomatoes. 
  • Peas. 
  • Cauliflower.
  • Green beans. 
  • Fennel. 
  • Celery. 
  • Bok choy. 
  • Broccoli. 
  • Olives. 

Fruits

  • Apples. 
  • Bananas. 
  • Peaches. 
  • Cantaloupe. 
  • Mango. 
  • Pineapple
  • Pears. 
  • Oranges. 
  • Plums. 
  • Cherries. 
  • Strawberries. 
  • Blueberries. 
  • Raspberries. 
  • Blackberries. 
  • Pomegranate. 
  • Kiwis. 
  • Grapefruit (Check with your pharmacist if you currently take prescription drugs, as grapefruit may interact with certain medications.) 
  • Papaya. 
  • Avocado. 

Grains

  • Quinoa. 
  • Farro. 
  • Teff.
  • Amaranth. 
  • Wheat berries. 
  • Whole wheat cereal, bread, pasta, and tortillas.  
  • Brown rice. 
  • Wild rice. 
  • Millet. 
  • Kamut. 
  • Sorghum.
  • Popcorn. 
  • Barley.
  • Rolled oats. 

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Nuts and Seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds. 
  • Sunflower seeds. 
  • Sesame seeds. 
  • Chia seeds. 
  • Flax seeds. 
  • Peanuts. 
  • Cashews. 
  • Almonds. 
  • Pecans. 
  • Walnuts. 
  • Hazelnuts. 
  • Macadamia nuts. 
  • Pistachios. 
  • Pine nuts.
  • Your favorite nut butter (with no added sugar or oil).  

Fats and Oils

  • Canola oil. 
  • Olive oil. 
  • Sunflower oil. 
  • Avocado oil. 
  • Peanut oil. 
  • Sesame oil. 
  • Vegetable oil. 
  • Soybean oil. 

Dairy and Plant-based Alternatives

  • Milk. 
  • Yogurt or Greek yogurt (unsweetened or low sugar).
  • Cottage cheese. 
  • Cheddar cheese. 
  • Parmesan. 
  • Feta cheese. 
  • Gouda. 
  • Cream cheese. 
  • Sour cream. 
  • Kefir. 
  • Almond milk. 
  • Soy milk. 
  • Flax milk.
  • Cashew milk. 
  • Pea milk. 
  • Macadamia milk. 
  • Plant-based yogurts (unsweetened or low sugar). 

Other PCOS Foods

For many, snacks are essential to a successful grocery haul. Try these options: 

  • Whole grain crackers. 
  • Seaweed. 
  • Hummus or bean dip. 
  • Roasted chickpeas. 
  • Crunchy soy nuts. 
  • Low-sodium soups. 
  • Tomato sauce. 
  • Salsa.
  • Pesto.

Other Things To Remember While Shopping 

Frozen and fresh vegetables and fruits are considered nutritionally on par.

However, sometimes ingredients are added to packaged items (like salt or sugar) to increase flavor or maintain bright colors. 

While shopping for frozen fruits, check the front of the bag to ensure it says “no added sugars.”

Although your body can safely metabolize small amounts of refined sugars, too much can contribute to inflammation, which may exacerbate PCOS symptoms. 

You can apply the same label-reading skills to assess the salt content of canned goods.

Salt is a preservative, but you can find reduced sodium or sodium-free options.

If you look at the nutrition label, check that the sodium content is less than 5% of the daily value. 

Dried beans are more economical than canned ones but must be fully rehydrated and cooked before eating.

Larger beans (kidney beans, white beans, etc.) will take longer versus red lentils, which are ready to eat in thirty minutes of boiling or less. 

Choose the product that fits your lifestyle and budget, and if you opt for dehydrated beans, follow the cooking instructions before eating.

Consuming raw or undercooked beans can damage your digestive system and make you very sick. 

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Tips for Managing PCOS Long-Term

People living with PCOS are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but taking proactive steps to manage your health can reduce this risk.

These may include lifestyle and dietary changes and regularly completing medical check-ups with your physician. 

Maintaining weight or preventing weight gain can help manage PCOS in the long term.

Studies have found that gaining fat mass can exacerbate inflammation and worsen insulin function, making it harder to prevent other diseases and conceive (if you’re interested in getting pregnant.)

Fortunately, working with a dietitian can help you meet your weight management goals. 

In addition to physical care, you should always prioritize your mental health.

Living with any chronic illness can be stressful, and 2023 data confirmed that people living with PCOS may also suffer psychological stress and decreased quality of life. 

If you’re worried about your health and PCOS, seeking mental health support from a trained counselor may be helpful.

You can learn cognitive behavioral techniques to cope with stress or anxiety about your health. 

Takeaway

PCOS is an endocrine disorder that influences your hormones, health, and mental and physical well-being.

Fortunately, research has come a long way in understanding this condition, and lifestyle changes are proven to support your health. 

Choose whole foods as often as possible, and pick healthy fats often.

Fiber-rich foods promote healthy blood sugar levels and insulin function and support gut health—which may help with PCOS. 

When grocery shopping, bring a list of your favorite foods and leave room for some treats.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect PCOS diet. Instead, focus on building a balanced diet that includes a blend of foods that nourish your body and soul.  

How a Dietitian Can Help

A registered dietitian specializing in PCOS is a nutrition expert and licensed healthcare professional.

They can help you build an individualized nutrition plan to achieve your health goals. 

You may not know what to expect if you’ve never met with a dietitian. Here are questions to ask: 

  • What causes PCOS
  • Should I be taking berberine for PCOS?
  • Are there any foods I should avoid for PCOS? 
  • What other strategies can I follow to improve my hormone health? 

Find a dietitian near you to learn how nutrition can support your hormonal health. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main cause of PCOS?

It’s unclear what causes PCOS.

There may be a genetic disposition, and certain ethnic groups are at higher risk, but researchers are still trying to figure out what causes PCOS.

There’s also no cure, but managing diet, being active, and taking medications as needed can help with symptoms.

What foods should I eat to help with PCOS?

You can eat a variety of foods to help with PCOS.

Choose whole, fiber-rich foods as often as possible to help manage blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

What is a good bread alternative for PCOS?

You can eat bread if you have PCOS, but if you’re looking for other options, you can enjoy whole grain crackers, roasted sweet potato slices, and lettuce wraps. 

Additionally, choosing 100% whole wheat bread is a better option than bread made with refined white flour, as it contains more protein, fiber, and micronutrients.

Some people bake their own modified bread at home using higher protein flour, such as chickpeas. 

References

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