This post was updated on March 21st, 2022

By Kym Campbell, BSc. | Updated March 21st, 2022

The one thing that no one wants to hear is that sugar and carbs make PCOS worse.

But… the reality is that together with insulin resistance, elevated androgens levels, and low-grade inflammation, an unhealthy, sugar-fueled diet forms a “deadly quartet” of metabolic risk factors in PCOS [1].

The flip side of this, however, is that even a modest reduction in sugar intake can have a positive impact on health and fertility for women with this syndrome.

As much as I’d rather avoid this inconvenient truth, in my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge I speak honestly about this relationship. For many participants, connecting these dots enables them to lose weight, get their period for the first time in months, and see improvements in skin, sleep quality, mood, energy, and mental health.

Cutting back on sugar and carbs isn’t fun, but it’s undeniably the best treatment for PCOS.

Which begs the question: how do you make a PCOS-friendly dessert?

The following 9 PCOS dessert recipes should hopefully answer this question and give you a healthier alternative for any occasion.

What Makes A Dessert Recipe PCOS-Friendly?

A great PCOS dessert recipe should:

  • Include lots of healthy fats and protein from coconut products, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Fat and protein reduce the glycemic load of sugar and carbs, helping improve insulin regulation.
  • Lower inflammation by avoiding gluten, dairy, industrial seed oils, food additives, and as much sugar as is reasonably practical.
  • Use fresh whole fruit instead of sweeteners where possible.
  • Use fructose-free, glucose-based sweeteners like dextrose powder, brown rice syrup, and light corn syrup in small amounts.
  • Use naturally derived non-nutritive sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia leaf extract.

9 Easy PCOS Dessert Ideas

  1. Chocolate Mud Cake
  2. Banana Bread
  3. Berry Delight
  4. Ginger Cookies
  5. Chai Tea Frozen Yogurt
  6. Spiced Nut Muffins
  7. Chocolate Chia Pudding
  8. Slow-Cooked Brownies
  9. Nutty Chai Smoothie

How To Supercharge Your PCOS Diet

Making PCOS-friendly desserts is a sensible way to avoid the harm of your average sugary, gluteny, dairy-filled treats, but if you want to embrace the full potential of a PCOS diet, the following resources will help get you started:

  • Join my next free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge. This is a live program that includes free weekly meal plans, nutritional video lessons, and group activities.
  • Download my free 3-Day PCOS Diet Meal Plan. This free e-book is perfect for getting started before the next 30-Day Challenge begins.
  • Subscribe to my PCOS Monthly Meal Planning Service. Get access to hundreds of PCOS recipes and a pre-populated, yet fully customizable meal plan. With dietary guidance, product recommendations, live events, community support, and more, this service is designed to save you time and provide ongoing support.
  • Sign up for my Beat PCOS 10-Week Program. This live program runs quarterly and provides the most comprehensive support for adapting to a PCOS-friendly lifestyle. As well as diet, nutritional guidance, and the resources available in my monthly meal planning service, participants are supported with PCOS-centric emotional eating interventions, an exercise program, stress management sessions, and more.
  • PCOS Dessert FAQ

    What about maple syrup? The potential health-promoting benefits of maple products come from their antioxidant, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, anti-inflammatory, and antiproliferative properties [2]. This makes maple syrup a better option than other sucrose sweeteners, but since it’s still a sucrose sweetener, it’s not suitable for PCOS women. Like most other sweeteners that contain large amounts of fructose and glucose-based components, consuming maple syrup increases blood sugar levels, disrupts healthy insulin regulation, and makes PCOS worse.

    What about coconut sugar? Like maple syrup, coconut sugar (a.k.a. palm sugar) primarily consists of sucrose and other forms of glucose and fructose. The potential health benefits from the micronutrients, fiber, and antioxidants found in coconut sugar, are insignificant when compared to the adverse effects of the sugars.

    What about honey? There’s strong evidence showing that raw, unpasteurized honey, that hasn’t been subsequently heated, has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and wound healing capacities [3]. Many studies also show that honey can improve body weight, insulin sensitivity, lipid metabolism, and blood pressure [4, 5]. This is in comparison to glucose, fructose, sucrose, and other similar “control” sugars. So, like other natural or less-processed sugars, honey is a better option on a like-for-like basis, but it’s still a rich source of sugar that causes blood sugar levels to rise quickly.

    What about stevia and monk fruit? Most 1:1 stevia or monk fruit sugar substitute products contain around 1% plant extract and 99% erythritol. This means these products are almost entirely erythritol. Erythritol appears to be one of the better non-nutritive sweeteners, although some people report GI discomfort with this sugar alcohol. Pure forms of stevia or monk fruit extract generally appear to be safe when consumed modestly and these products don’t contain erythritol or other fillers. Since they are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar [6], only small amounts of pure stevia or monk fruit extract are needed to sweeten any PCOS dessert recipe.

    Can I have these desserts every day? The answer to this question entirely depends on your existing dietary habits, your long-term health goals, and your time horizon. If you’re currently consuming sweet foods every day, then switching to more PCOS-friendly alternatives like the recipe examples above will definitely be a step in the right direction. If you want to follow a more advanced PCOS diet though, keeping desserts and sweet treats to a minimum is preferable.

    What type of chocolate do you recommend? When making PCOS desserts recipes, I’ll primarily use raw cacao to provide a chocolatey hit without the addition of dairy or sugar. If I actually need pieces of chocolate though, I find that dairy-free, 85% cacao dark chocolate is best. This typically contains 15% sugar, but the total quantity per serve is small and unlikely to have a significant impact on health.

    Author

    Back to Top

    References

    1Barrea, L., et al., Source and amount of carbohydrate in the diet and inflammation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Nutr Res Rev, 2018. 31(2): p. 291-301.

    2Ramadan, M.F., H.A. Gad, and M.A. Farag, Chemistry, processing, and functionality of maple food products: An updated comprehensive review. J Food Biochem, 2021: p. e13832.

    3Cianciosi, D., et al., Phenolic Compounds in Honey and Their Associated Health Benefits: A Review. Molecules, 2018. 23(9).

    4Bobiş, O., D.S. Dezmirean, and A.R. Moise, Honey and Diabetes: The Importance of Natural Simple Sugars in Diet for Preventing and Treating Different Type of Diabetes. Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2018. 2018: p. 4757893.

    5Ramli, N.Z., et al., A Review on the Protective Effects of Honey against Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients, 2018. 10(8).

    6Prakash, I., A. Markosyan, and C. Bunders, Development of Next Generation Stevia Sweetener: Rebaudioside M. Foods, 2014. 3(1): p. 162-175.