Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is considered the most common female endocrine disorder and it can contribute to long-term health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Women with PCOS suffer from the hormone imbalance that causes irregular menstrual periods and reduces their chances of pregnancy. PCOS can be successfully managed with lifestyle and dietary changes along with weight loss. Anti-inflammatory foods such as omega-3 fatty acids are especially helpful in treating PCOS concerns like insulin sensitivity, immune regulation, cellular differentiation, and ovulation. Medical and health experts have recognized fish oil as a vital omega-3 supplement for maintaining health and it can serve as a key component of your PCOS management diet.
What is Fish Oil?
Fish oil, derived from the fat of cold water fish, is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fat that is high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids that form an important part of our cell membranes and are a building block for those hormones that manage blood clotting and inflammation. But they are not produced by our body and can only be supplemented from external dietary sources like fish oil.
How does fish oil help women with PCOS?
Fish oil has a plethora of health benefits and it can address a range of PCOS issues:
1. It helps control cholesterol absorption and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) synthesis, fatty liver, triglycerides and blood pressure.
2. It improves mood, helps with depression and enhances brain function.
3. It lowers testosterone.
4. It promotes healthy insulin levels, ovulation, as well as hair and skin.
5. It controls and reduces inflammation.
6. Fish oil regulates the synthesis of prostaglandins by inhibiting the production of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2).
7. PCOS is a leading reason for female infertility as it causes the ovaries to release eggs sporadically, if at all, instead of the regular cycle of 28 days. Furthermore, even after women with PCOS become pregnant, they still have higher risks of miscarriage. Along with lowering insulin levels, the imbalance of eicosanoids has to be managed with the increased consumption of fish oil. Some studies show that pregnant women, who take large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, present in fish oil, have lower chances of giving premature births.
8. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help with cardiometabolic risk factors in PCOS patients.
In an Iranian double-blind study in 2017, the effect of fish oil on PCOS women was tested. 88 women with PCOS took 2 g of omega-3 fish oil daily for 6 months, while another control group took 2 olive oil capsules. Fish oil was linked to a number of benefits like a shorter gap between menses, weight loss, and improvement in lipid imbalances such as HDL/LDL.
Therefore, you can reap the health benefits of omega-3 rich fish oil in your diet and improve your PCOS symptoms and concerns by either taking fish oil supplements or simply eating more fish. At least two servings of cold water fish every week is recommended. Mackerel, salmon, tuna, anchovy, sardines, mullet, bluefish, trout, herring, and menhaden are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids and ideal for your PCOS diet.