When it comes to PCOD, food can work as medicine. For all the Indian cysters who are looking to add PCOD superfoods to their diet, we have compiled a list of foods easily available in India. Some of these will help manage PCOS symptoms, others will improve symptoms. And all of these should be a part of your healing PCOS diet.
Coconut oil may have gotten some bad press in recent years because of its saturated fat content. As we have advocated repeatedly, there are many health benefits of eating coconut oil.
Coconut oil has a unique fat profile: its saturated fats are made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT.) MCT’s are absorbed differently in our bodies when compared to long-chain fatty acids. Instead of being stored away, these fats are broken down quickly to be used as energy. In fact, adding coconut oil to your diet can actually aid weight loss!
What’s better — the lauric acid in coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that are particularly important for PCOS. That’s because many women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome suffer from chronic low-grade inflammation and its resulting effects. All of these benefits make coconut oil one of top PCOS superfoods. Time to move away from refined oils like safflower, rice bran or sunflower oils and make good, old coconut oil a kitchen staple!
You’ve heard that applying aloe gel to skin helps heal and soothe cystic acne. But did you know that when ingested, aloe vera helps restore hormonal balance and improves insulin sensitivity?! Yup, it does! And since imbalanced hormones and insulin resistance lie at the core of PCOS, aloe vera is another superfood that helps treat PCOS from within.
Aloe vera has the power to reverse impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance, which often go hand in hand with PCOS. While aloe vera juice is easily available in India, you can also make your own if you have an aloe plant at home. Combine two tablespoons of fresh aloe vera gel with a cup of freshly squeezed juice of your choice. Blend together. Serve chilled with ice cubes.
Healthy snacks are an integral part of your PCOS diet, and nothing trumps nuts in our books. In fact, eating nuts like almonds and walnuts can have beneficial effects on plasma lipids and androgens in women suffering from PCOS. Additionally, nuts have a low glycemic index, making them a better snack option for PCOD than say a piece of fruit.
Walnuts can increase natural SHBG or sex hormone-binding globulin production. SHBG is a protein that binds to testosterone and can lower your free testosterone levels circulating in the blood, improving your overall PCOS symptoms. Similarly, almonds also lower androgen or testosterone levels in the blood. So you see, there’s a good reason your grandma insisted you eat badaam and akhrot every day!
Another superfood we love for PCOS is fatty fish, rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce serum concentrations of testosterone and regulate menstrual cycle, which can be very beneficial for women suffering from PCOS. And while the internet will tell you that Salmon is the best omega-3 rich fatty fish to add to your diet, you don’t have to go bankrupt trying to source Salmon in India!!
Truth is that plenty of locally available fatty fish varieties are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Among fatty fish, some examples of PCOD superfoods are Indian mackerel, sardines, red snapper, tilapia, trout, basa, catfish, cod pomfret and herring. In fact, a can of tuna (available easily online or in supermarkets) can be your best friend when you’re trying to fight those pesky PCOS symptoms! It’s rich in protein, B vitamins, vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids — all of which are vital for fighting against PCOD.
A wonder spice that works equally well for sweet and savoury dishes, cinnamon or dalachini is a must-add to your PCOS diet. It will increase insulin sensitivity and improve menstrual cyclicity. It will also act as an effective appetite suppressant by improving satiety and delaying gastric emptying.
And to enjoy all of these amazing benefits, all you need is to add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to your diet every day! Sprinkle some on your morning cup of masala chai, or add a teaspoon to your favourite spiced curries which also enhances the flavour.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This is another easily available PCOD superfood you may have been missing out on. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) improves glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity, making it a potent natural remedy for PCOS. Taking 2 tablespoons a day will prevent any sharp spikes in blood sugars and insulin levels, and also help with carb cravings.
The best way to use ACV as medicine is to mix 2 tablespoons (20gm) of organic apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink this before meals.
Flaxseeds or Alsi are a great source of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and essential amino acids, which are all excellent additions to your diet for PCOS. Flaxseeds are also touted as a wonderful all-natural remedy for another common symptom of PCOD — hirsutism. That’s because they contain ‘Lignans’ or plant-based estrogens that help balance out excess androgens in a woman’s body. What’s better, they are inexpensive and readily available. And they have a mild-but-not-overwhelming nutty taste, which makes it possible to incorporate flaxseeds into a variety of dishes.
The important point to note is that whole flaxseeds cannot be digested by the human body. Which is why it’s essential to grind flaxseeds into what’s known as ‘flax meal’ in order to make the most of their good nutritional value. Feel free to add a tablespoon to curries, dry vegetables, dough for chapatis, soups, salads, smoothies, baked muffins and more.
Spearmint or pahari pudina tea has significant anti-androgen effects that can be very beneficial for women dealing with PCOD. Drinking 2-3 cups of spearmint tea every day can help reduce Free Testosterone levels by 30%. It can also increase both Luteinising Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – which help in improving menstrual cyclicity.
As a result, a cup of spearmint tea helps fight against PCOS related acne and hirsutism, anxiety, stress, inflammation and PMS symptoms. Drink a soothing cup of spearmint tea post meals to also help aid digestion.
So these are our favourite 8 PCOD superfoods that are easily available in India. However, there are plenty of other healthy whole foods that can be incorporated into your PCOS diet. Which ones have you tried? Care to share your favorites with us?