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While you may think that greasy food or “hair of the dog” are the only ways to cure a hangover, eating more healthy, nutrient-rich foods is actually the best way to start feeling better after you’ve had too much alcohol to drink.
There are many reasons why hangover symptoms occur, including dehydration, low blood sugar levels, depleted nutrient levels, and a buildup of alcohol-related toxins.
Fortunately, many common foods and drinks can help to cure your hangover fast by targeting some of these factors—try a few of these 15 best hangover foods the next time you have a big night out and you’re not feeling your best come morning.
15 Best Hangover Foods
While there is, unfortunately, no magic cure for hangovers (sometimes the only remedy is time), several foods can help you feel better for the time being.
Although research on how to cure hangovers is limited, the best hangover food is something hydrating, high in nutrients, loaded with amino acids, or carb-rich.
We know it’s not food, but we had to start with the ultimate hangover cure—water.
Plain and simple, if you are dehydrated, you are not going to feel good after a night of heavy drinking.
While the best practice would be to stay hydrated the night before, it’s all too common to forget to drink water and wake up with a splitting headache and dry mouth.
Plus, alcohol is a diuretic, leading to dehydration because it increases water loss and causes you to urinate more frequently—so even if you drank the same amount of water you usually do, you may need more if you were also consuming alcohol.
If this is the case, head to the kitchen and start drinking plenty of water—as a bonus, throw in some electrolyte powders, like Liquid IV or Uppermost, which can help to regulate any lost electrolytes from increased urination and fluid loss.
If you can stomach them (we’d recommend avoiding sunny-side up and going for scrambled here), eggs are a great food to cure hangover symptoms.
Eggs are rich in protein—specifically, they contain cysteine, an amino acid necessary to produce glutathione, an antioxidant vital for breaking down the toxic byproducts of alcohol (like acetaldehyde).
In a study with mice, ethanol administration significantly depleted glutathione levels in the liver by over 50% after six hours—and 24 hours after having ethanol, glutathione was still not back to its normal levels.
As drinking alcohol may reduce the body’s glutathione stores for up to a day afterward, consuming cysteine-rich foods like eggs may help eliminate the buildup of alcohol-related toxins that make you feel ill.
If your primary hangover symptom is feeling nauseous, ginger is your best bet, as it’s been used therapeutically for centuries for upset stomachs and as an anti-nausea agent.
It’s thought that ginger reduces nausea because its active compound called gingerol increases the rate of gastrointestinal motility—essentially, it helps food move through the digestive tract, reducing the potential for food to come back up.
While there is no available research looking at the effects of ginger on hangover-induced nausea, plenty of studies show that it reduces nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, chemotherapy, and after surgery.
Low blood sugar can contribute to hangover symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and mood disturbances—and honey may be able to help.
Not only is honey high in sugar, but it is primarily in the form of fructose (the same type of sugar found widely in fruit).
Although excess fructose is not great in our daily diets, having more of it during a hangover may help to ease some symptoms.
This is because fructose may increase the rate of alcohol elimination, as seen in this study, where consuming honey with ethanol increased blood alcohol elimination rates by 29% in college students (a solid study population choice).
Eating watermelon may help cure a hangover—as its name suggests, this melon is loaded with water (92% of it is H2O, to be exact).
Watermelon also contains L-citrulline, an amino acid that may increase blood flow.
Although alcohol consumption can dilate blood vessels, hangover symptoms the next day include vasoconstriction (constricted blood vessels) that contribute to headaches and nausea—and vasodilating compounds like L-citrulline may be able to help circulate blood properly again.
Bananas are one of the best hangover foods because they are well-known for being rich in potassium, an electrolyte mineral that is essential for hydration.
Alcohol consumption blocks the production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH, also known as vasopressin), which helps your body hold on to water.
Without ADH production, you lose fluids and electrolytes like potassium and sodium.
As one banana contains about 9% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium, eating (or blending up in a smoothie) one or two may help to restore that lost potassium.
Plus, bananas contain fructose, which can accelerate alcohol’s elimination from your system.
Although bananas typically get all of the potassium press, avocados actually have more of the mineral, containing 15% of the DV per medium avocado.
Avocados also contain glutathione—an antioxidant that helps neutralize alcohol-related toxins—and vitamin B6, which has been shown to reduce hangover symptoms by up to 50% when taken supplementally.
Pickles are known for being high in sodium—which we ordinarily don’t want to overconsume, but in the case of hangovers, any extra electrolytes may help.
Pickles—and pickle juice—also contain some potassium, helping to restore lost levels of this mineral from drinking alcohol.
One large pickle spear contains 10-13% of the DV for sodium, while just 2 ounces of pickle juice contains 16% of the DV.
9. Broth-Based Soup
Broth-based soup—especially chicken noodle soup—has been a remedy for almost every ailment for decades, including hangover relief.
The reason is similar to how pickles may help hangovers, as broth-based soups are typically high in sodium.
Plus, chicken noodle soup contains protein from chicken, which can help to restore lost amino acids from drinking.
10. Red Meat
All forms of meat are high in protein and amino acids, which can be beneficial for relieving hangover symptoms.
However, red meat has an additional benefit, as it’s rich in zinc and niacin—two nutrients linked to hangover improvement.
Zinc and niacin are essential in converting ethanol (alcohol) into acetaldehyde—the first step in eliminating alcohol from the body.
In one study of healthy social drinkers, those who consumed more dietary zinc and niacin had significant improvements in next-day hangover severity, especially with vomiting.
(As an aside, oysters are some of the most zinc-rich foods—but we’re guessing that will not be your first choice to eat when you are hungover.)
Asparagus is surprisingly a good hangover food—it’s a low-calorie vegetable that contains vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, and magnesium, which may help to cure a hangover.
In one cell-based study, adding asparagus extract to test tubes doubled the effectiveness of two enzymes needed to metabolize ethanol (alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase), suggesting that asparagus could help with hangover symptoms.
Many people know that dry crackers can help with nausea, making them one of the best foods to cure a hangover.
In another instance of “not always healthy, but can help with a hangover,” crackers are rich in simple carbohydrates that are easy to digest, which can help with any hangover-related hypoglycemia.
Good options (for a hangover, at least) are saltines or Ritz-type crackers, which can also help to settle your stomach before you’re ready for a more substantial meal.
Like crackers, oatmeal contains plenty of carbohydrates with the addition of soluble fiber that can help relieve nausea.
Oatmeal also contains B vitamins and magnesium, which are beneficial to consume when you have a hangover.
Plus, oatmeal is a great vehicle for some of the other items on this list—add bananas and honey to help facilitate your hangover recovery even further.
14. Coconut Water
Coconut water is well-known for its role in supporting hydration in athletes—but the same can be said for hangover sufferers, too.
The reason coconut water is so beneficial for rehydration is because of its electrolyte content, with each cup containing 13% of the DV for potassium and 11% for sodium.
Last but not least, coffee may help some people (keyword: some) recover from a hangover faster.
If you don’t typically drink caffeine, this tip is likely not recommended, as it may make you feel worse.
However, if you’re a regular coffee guzzler, having a small amount of caffeine could help with your hangover—especially if your main symptom is fatigue.
As a caveat, you’ll want to ensure you are well-hydrated first because caffeine can also act as a mild diuretic.
Hangover Food FAQs
What Foods Should You Avoid When Hungover?
Despite what many people believe, greasy, fried foods can make you feel worse when you are hungover, as it’s devoid of nutrients and can make an upset digestive system feel even worse.
You should also avoid high amounts of sugar (like soda). Although sugar in smaller quantities (like fruit and honey) can help with a hangover, a larger amount can spike your blood sugar too high and make you feel worse.
And this probably goes without saying, but you should avoid alcohol—more booze may make you feel better in the moment, but you’re only delaying (and worsening) the inevitable.
Is Coffee Good For Hangovers?
Coffee is helpful for some people when they have a hangover, but not everyone.
If you don’t typically drink caffeine, having coffee may make you feel worse. However, regular coffee drinkers may feel better from the caffeine, especially if they are feeling fatigued.
You’ll want to ensure you are well-hydrated first because caffeine can also act as a mild diuretic.
What Is the Best Hydration For a Hangover?
What Makes Hangovers Go Away?
The number one thing that makes hangovers go away is time (sorry for the bad news).
However, there are several best foods for hangovers, including eggs, ginger, honey, bananas, watermelon, avocado, pickles and pickle juice, avocado, broth, red meat, asparagus, crackers, oatmeal, coconut water, and possibly coffee.
While time is the only true hangover cure (or not drinking at all), many different foods and beverages can help you feel better for the time being.
The best things to eat or drink to cure a hangover are hydrating, high in nutrients or antioxidants, loaded with amino acids, or carb-rich.
For example, the best hangover foods include eggs, oatmeal, bananas, and watermelon, while helpful drinks to cure a hangover are water, coconut water, and possibly coffee.