Pulse Industry

Consuming Pulses to Manage the Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of the most common endocrine disorders in women of reproductive age, affects 1.4 million women in Canada alone. Women with PCOS have excessive body weight, increased risk of type II diabetes, irregular menstrual cycles, and abnormal ovarian function which affects their ability to become pregnant. Medical professionals recommend lifestyle modifications including diet and exercise to manage PCOS symptoms; however, there is no current consensus regarding the optimal diet for women with PCOS.


Building on research completed within the first Pulse Science Cluster, this study further examines using a pulse-based diet as a nutrition intervention for the PCOS population. For 16 weeks, study participants consumed two servings of pulses daily and completed 45 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 times per week, and the researchers examined reproductive measures (sex hormone levels; antral follicle count), blood lipids (cholesterol), insulin, glucose (blood sugar levels), body composition (body mass, muscle mass, and bone mass), and liver fat levels. The researchers found the pulse-based diet led to improvements in reproductive measurements (decreased ovarian follicle counts) and lowered the cholesterol ratio (total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol). An evidence-based cookbook with 50+ healthy, easy, and affordable recipes for entrees, soups, and salads has been developed for PCOS patients, clinicians and researchers.


Theme: Human Health Outcomes
Project Title: Effect of a pulse-based diet on the health of women with polycystic ovary syndrome
Funding partners: Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and Agriculture and Agri‐Food Canada
Research Team: Drs. Gordon Zello, Phil Chilibeck, Donna Chizen, and Roger Pierson - University of Saskatchewan


Links to more information: 

  • Project Abstract
  • SPG PulseResearch magazine – Volume 1, page 17 article titled: “Baby Steps. Research tests link between pulse consumption and female fertility.”
  • SPG PulsePoint magazine – March 2014, page 23-26 article titled: “Can Pulses Improve Fertility? SPG-funded research tests the link between eating pulses and improving female fertility.”
  • SPG PulsePoint magazine – December 2016, page 8-9 article titled: “Pulse-based Diet Benefits Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Consumption helps lower cholesterol.”


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