Is Oatmeal Good For PCOS? 6 Surprising Health Benefits for Women

Women with PCOS struggle with symptoms such as weight gain, insulin resistance, and irregular menstrual periods. For such women, adopting healthy food choices can significantly improve their condition. One such food item that may be beneficial is oatmeal which has long been praised for its health benefits, but is oatmeal good for PCOS?

In this blog, we will explore six surprising health benefits of oatmeal for PCOS, differentiate between the different types of oats, and offer some recipe inspiration on how to incorporate more oats in your life (besides just breakfast)!

spoon with jar oatmeal pcos

6 Health Benefits of Oats and PCOS

While everyone can reap the benefits of eating more oats, women with PCOS can especially benefit. 

Since oatmeal is a whole grain, it contains more fibre and nutrients than more processed grains. These important components are found in the outer bran of the grain; hence you need the entire (whole) grain to get these nutrients

1. Oatmeal Lowers LDL “Bad” Cholesterol

Firstly, PCOS can increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol and decrease HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. Also, women with PCOS are at a higher risk for heart disease and are recommended to have a full lipid panel done at the time of diagnosis, including total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol (1).

High LDL cholesterol is one of the risk factors for developing heart disease. It is not uncommon in my practice to see women with PCOS who have high LDL cholesterol levels. Research shows that consuming oatmeal regularly can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering “bad” cholesterol levels.

To help lower cholesterol, it’s important to consume a healthy diet with less saturated fats. Saturated fat comes mostly from animal-based foods like meat, eggs and dairy, as well as from coconut oil. There is mixed evidence about whether eating saturated fats appears to be linked to heart disease.

For women with PCOS who are already at an increased risk for heart disease and may struggle to keep their lipids in normal ranges, I would advise reducing saturated fats (2) and eating more foods to help lower cholesterol, such as oatmeal (3).

Dietary cholesterol doesn’t really impact blood cholesterol levels like previously thought. It’s more related to consuming these unhealthy fats and not enough other key nutrients. 

Oats and PCOS: How Oats Lowers Cholesterol

One of those key nutrients is the special type of fibre found in oatmeal. Oatmeal contains a soluble fibre, which helps attract water and forms a gel-like consistency. In contrast, insoluble fibres found in other various vegetables and whole grains help provide bulk to the stool. Both are important for healthy digestion and PCOS, but in this blog we will focus on the soluble fibre found in oats. 

The type of soluble fibre in oatmeal is known as beta-glucans. Several studies have repeatedly shown that just 3 grams of beta-glucans per day lowers total and LDL cholesterol significantly (5).

To get this amount of beta-glucans from oatmeal, you’d need to consume 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal or 3 instant oatmeal packets daily. Seems like a lot… right?  

Well, the good news for us is that oatmeal isn’t the only source of beta-glucan. We can also get this from barley, with 1 cup of cooked pearl barley giving us 2.5 grams.

2. Oatmeal Lowers Your Risk for Heart Disease and Stroke

Not only is high cholesterol a risk factor for heart disease but so is PCOS. As mentioned above, women with PCOS are more likely to have altered lipids, and it’s important they monitor these values with regular blood tests. 

A healthy diet including whole grains (fibre) and less saturated fat can help reduce your risk for high cholesterol and, thus, heart disease. Further, it can be beneficial to replace these saturated fats with whole grains and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are the healthy fats in many plant-based foods like avocado and olive oil. 

Diabetes is another condition more common amongst women with PCOS and is a risk factor for heart disease. Let’s look at another wonderful benefit of oatmeal for PCOS: blood sugar regulation. 

3. Oatmeal Supports Blood Sugar Regulation

Blood sugar control refers to how well your body can maintain optimal blood sugar levels. Studies show that foods rich in fibre, such as oatmeal, can help manage glycemic control by slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.

Nutrition recommendations to manage diabetes and PCOS are sometimes quite similar. One similarity is to choose more low glycemic-index (GI) carbohydrates. Low GI carbs are digested and absorbed slower, meaning you won’t get a spike in blood sugar after eating that food. 

Low GI foods are ideal for PCOS because insulin and glucose functioning are not as smooth as a healthy individual. Eating more oatmeal will ensure you’re getting more low GI whole grains, which will help prevent blood sugars from getting too high. 

4. Keeps You Full

Piggybacking off our better blood sugar controls is another great effect of eating more low GI whole grains – they keep you full longer! Gone are the days of feeling peckish an hour after eating a good-sized meal. 

The beta-glucans may also be responsible for this effect, as they have nice gelling and thickening effects.

The effects of oatmeal for PCOS including better fullness and blood sugar regulation can help with your body composition goals as well. Now you do not need to lose weight to improve PCOS but it can help with PCOS symptom management.

Check out our other blogs on belly fat and PCOS or when to bulk or cut for more information! Note that not all women with PCOS need to lose weight as you can have PCOS without weight gain (aka Lean PCOS).

5. Helps Keep You Regular And Promotes Bowel Health

Oatmeal is a source of fibre, specifically soluble fibre, which helps draw water into stool and soften it. It is great to prevent constipation and ensure stool’s smooth sailing. Some women with PCOS also have IBS and more commonly, the constipation type of IBS. Adding oatmeal for PCOS can help improve your gut health which in turn, will improve your PCOS symptoms!

Not only is oatmeal good for PCOS due to regularity, but high fibre diets have also been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (5).

6. Oats and PCOS: Keeps Your Gut Healthy

We also know women with PCOS are more likely to have altered gut bacteria. To improve our gut, we need probiotics (live bacteria) and prebiotics (fibre). Foods like whole grains can help provide more prebiotics, which are just fibres that act as food for the probiotics (6).

jars of peanut butter chocolate oatmeal for pcos

Is Oatmeal Good For PCOS: Does The Type Matter?

There are several varieties of oatmeal on the market, varying in texture, cooking time and glycemic index. 

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure out of 100 of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises your blood sugar. There are 3 ratings: low (55 or less), medium (56-69), and high (70 or higher). 

Although there is no specific diet recommended for PCOS as per the 2023 PCOS Guidelines, it is recommended that women with PCOS choose a healthy diet. Consuming a low GI diet is one method of ensuring a diet full of whole grains, fibre, and nutrients – all of which are important for feeling full, staying regular, and promoting health effects such as heart, gut, and bowel health. 

Check out our other blog posts on diets for PCOS:

Instant Oats

You’ll find these usually sold in convenient, single-serve packets. They are called instant oats because they take almost no time to cook and can simply be thrown into a bowl in the microwave with water. 

While convenient, they tend to have added sugars and are more processed, which may reduce their nutrition. The texture of instant oats are creamy, which is desirable for many people. 

The GI of instant oats is high at 76. 

While this seems like a deal-breaker, rest assured we can lower the GI by pairing this with protein or fibre. Convenience doesn’t have to be unhealthy! 

Quick Oats

These take a little longer to cook than instant oats, but are still ready in a short amount of time. That’s because the pieces of oats are cut smaller before they are rolled out. 

Quick oats have a medium glycemic index of 66. 

Rolled “Old Fashioned” Oats

Rolled oats are whole grains of oats that have been rolled out flat. They take longer to cook than quick oats, but are still conveniently ready in 15-20 minutes. 

The glycemic index of rolled oats ranges from 49-57, making it a lower GI choice.

Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are the least processed of the oats. They are left most similar to their original form, with only a few cuts made. They do take the longest to cook, up to 45 minutes. 

With less processing, the texture of these oats is much different than that of the other oats. Steel cut oats have more texture to them and are chewier and nuttier. 

The glycemic index of steel cut oats is low at a rating of 48-53. 

Quick-Cooking Steel Cut Oats

You may have noticed varieties of “quick-cooking steel cut oats” which claim to be ready in as little as 3 minutes! 

How on Earth could we go from 45 minutes down to 3 minutes? 

Turns out, the oats are cut into even smaller pieces to facilitate the quicker cooking time. 

These have yet to be rated with the GI, but one can assume that more processing = a higher GI. Again, much like instant oats, if these are your vibe then simply balance the meal out with protein and fats to help bring the GI down. 

That being said, pairing any of these oats with protein and healthy fat isn’t a bad idea. 

What Kind Of Oatmeal Is Good For PCOS? 

Realistically, you’ll get benefits from any style of oats as they are whole grains with a wonderful source of soluble fibre. 

My only recommendation would be to try to avoid the instant flavoured packet to avoid excess added sugars. As you can see, the best kind of oatmeal for PCOS is the many other plain oat varieties that come in quick-cooking and convenient forms (like steel cut instant oats) and would be a better alternative to the flavoured instant oats. 

Now that we know all the oats out there, let’s dive deeper into the nutritional value of oats. 

Nutritional Value of Oats

½ cup of dry rolled oats will provide: 

  • 190 calories
  • 3 grams of total fat
  • 33 grams of total carbs
  • 5 grams of fibre  (20% daily value)
  • 1 gram of sugar
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 2 mg iron (11% daily value)
  • 18 mcg folate (4% daily value)
  • 1 mg zinc  (13% daily value)

As you can see, this is a great choice for PCOS, as it’s high fibre with a moderate amount of protein, iron, and zinc. 

bowl with berries, nuts, oats for pcos

5 Different PCOS Oatmeal Recipe Ideas

When you think about oatmeal, you may be thinking of just breakfast, but I’d like to share some ideas to incorporate this powerful grain into any meal or snack. 

Please note, that these are ideas rather than structured recipes and require a little experimentation to see what suits you best. If you want more ideas on how to make a balanced breakfast for PCOS, check out our other blog.

Hot Oatmeal

Of course we have to start with the classic: a hot bowl of oatmeal. But how can we transform this into something fabulous? Try these flavour combinations for toppings: 

  • PB&J: peanut butter, chia and/or hemp seeds and raspberries 
  • Apple pie: diced apples and/or unsweetened applesauce, cinnamon, toasted pecans
  • Carrot cake: shredded carrots, raisins or currants, shredded coconut, drained canned pineapple and a dollop of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt 
  • Double chocolate: mix the oatmeal base with cocoa powder and a protein like protein powder or Greek yogurt, top with sliced bananas and chocolate chips 
  • Tropical: top with cottage cheese and sliced mango, pineapple and unsweetened shredded coconut 

PCOS Overnight Oats

If you have PCOS, overnight oats could be a great solution for a quick, easy and nutritious breakfast. 

In a jar, simply combine: 

  • ½ cup oats of choice
  • ½ – 1 cup of milk or water (depending on the thickness you prefer) 

As well as optional add ins like: 

  • Ground flaxseed
  • Chia seed
  • Hemp hearts
  • Cocoa powder
  • Instant espresso
  • Vanilla extract
  • Applesauce (yay for more soluble fibre!)
  • Pumpkin puree + pumpkin spice seasoning 
  • Protein powder
  • Greek yogurt (adds a creamy texture) 
  • Raisins + cinnamon 
  • Matcha powder 

PCOS Oats Energy Balls

The formula for an oat-based energy ball is pretty simple: we need oats, something to help it stick together, and ingredients for the fun-factor. 

For example, you can combine: 

  • 1 cup dry quick or rolled oats 
  • ½ cup peanut butter, almond butter or wow butter (nut-free) 
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup (best sweetener to help it stick together) 
  • ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut and/or chocolate chips (fun factor!) 

Mix this up in a bowl and roll into balls. These are great to keep stashed away in your freezer for a quick, energizing snack. 

Oat Sweet Potato Flatbread

You heard it here first! Keeping with our theme of low glycemic index choices, we’re going to combine cooked, mashed sweet potato with quick or rolled oats (ground into a flour in your blender). You may also add some ground flaxseed for good measure, maybe a couple tablespoons. 

Simply mix the ingredients together in a bowl and press into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. 

You can eat this on its own or use it as a base for something fun like a pizza! 

Spread on some pesto, add sliced mushrooms and shredded cooked chicken and sprinkle on some fresh Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven again for 10 minutes and voila! 

*Chef’s kiss*


Well, meatloaf made with oats!

Again, a simple way to add the most nutrition to every bite. Take meatloaf (or meatballs or homemade burger patties for that matter), and substitute the typical breadcrumbs for oat flour. 

You can make oat flour by blending either quick or rolled oats in your blender. 

pcos oats on a table with gold spoon

And there you have it! Is oatmeal good for PCOS? Yes!

Oats offer unique nutritional benefits for women with PCOS, with several variations to choose from and some new recipe inspiration. While there is no cure for PCOS, a healthy diet can improve symptoms and overall health. Oatmeal is an excellent choice for women with PCOS due to its numerous health benefits.

Whether you enjoy oatmeal as a traditional breakfast or incorporate it into your other meals, you are undoubtedly nourishing your body. With different types of oats available, such as steel-cut, rolled, and instant, you can easily find one that suits your tastes and dietary needs.

So why not start by trying out some of the delicious oatmeal recipes out there? Go ahead and enjoy the many health benefits oatmeal has to offer!

If you need help applying this information, reach out to me for free a consultation call! I would love to help you regain your wellness and thrive with PCOS.

  1. Teede, H. J., Tay, C. T., Laven, J. J. E., Dokras, A., Moran, L. J., Piltonen, T. T., Costello, M. F., Boivin, J., Redman, L. M., Boyle, J. A., Norman, R. J., Mousa, A., Joham, A. E., & International PCOS Network (2023). Recommendations From the 2023 International Evidence-based Guideline for the Assessment and Management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, dgad463. Advance online publication.
  2. Maki, K. C., Dicklin, M. R., & Kirkpatrick, C. F. (2021). Saturated fats and cardiovascular health: Current evidence and controversies. Journal of clinical lipidology15(6), 765–772.
  3. Hooper L, Martin N, Jimoh OF, Kirk C, Foster E, Abdelhamid AS. Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Aug 21;8(8):CD011737. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011737.pub3. PMID: 32827219; PMCID: PMC8092457.
  4. Tosh, S. M., & Bordenave, N. (2020). Emerging science on benefits of whole grain oat and barley and their soluble dietary fibers for heart health, glycemic response, and gut microbiota. Nutrition reviews78(Suppl 1), 13–20.
  5. Zhou, E., & Rifkin, S. (2021). Colorectal Cancer and Diet: Risk Versus Prevention, Is Diet an Intervention?. Gastroenterology clinics of North America50(1), 101–111.
  6. Tosh, S. M., & Bordenave, N. (2020). Emerging science on benefits of whole grain oat and barley and their soluble dietary fibers for heart health, glycemic response, and gut microbiota. Nutrition reviews78(Suppl 1), 13–20.

About The Author

2 thoughts on “Is Oatmeal Good For PCOS? 6 Surprising Health Benefits for Women”

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top