The Best Hangover Foods to Help You Feel Like a Human Again
Hungover and craving a greasy bacon cheeseburger? Although it may taste great when you're hurting, it's not the best hangover food to feed your body. Although there's no known cure for a hangover (ahem... looking at you, hangover pills), there are healthier hangover food options that may actually help you feel better.
The next time you have a little too much to drink, here are 10 healthy foods and drinks that can help alleviate some of those hangover symptoms. (Then try these hangover "cures" to help with the rest.)
Ok, technically it's not a food, and it's simple, but it can't be emphasized enough: Drink lots of water. ICYDK, you become dehydrated when you drink alcohol because it's a diuretic and causes your body to produce more urine. This can be exacerbated when you drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol. (That's one reason why you probably wake up to pee a lot after drinking.) Some of the most common symptoms of a hangover—headache, nausea, fatigue—actually happen because you're dehydrated. Before you even think about food, chug some water. If plain water isn't your thing, turn to seltzer or flavor your water with lemon or lime. (As a last resort, you can try a sports drink with electrolytes.)
2. Chicken Broth
Hangovers can bring on a woozy stomach. If solid food still sounds a little too intense for you, give chicken broth—either homemade or store-bought—a try. Because it's a liquid, warm chicken broth is easily digestible and can help soothe your stomach and help with rehydration. You'll also get sodium, which can help replenish some of those lost electrolytes. (Just make sure you choose low- or regular-sodium broth, but not sodium-free, or you won't be replenishing the lost electrolytes.) Enjoy the broth in chicken soup or sip it on its own. (Related: 8 Reasons to Try Bone Broth)
3. Avocado Toast
Great news: Avocado toast is one of the best hangover foods out there. Repeat: Drinking alcohol, especially in more-than-moderate amounts, leads to dehydration and loss of electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Avocado is a good source of potassium, providing 14 percent of the daily recommended amount. Plus, if you're craving greasy foods, the healthy fats in avocado (heyyy omega 9s!) may help satisfy that craving. Pass on healthy, whole-grain bread (yes, really) and pair it with a low-fiber bread (like white) instead, which will be easier on your digestive system and also provide extra sodium. White toast may also help with nausea and low blood sugar (which includes symptoms like headaches and fatigue) that can be brought on by drinking too much and not eating enough. (If you're ready to get fancy, check out these avocado toast recipes.)
Magnesium is needed to support an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol and eliminates it from the body. In addition, magnesium may help relax the head and neck muscle tension that can make your hangover even more painful. One ounce of almonds (about 23) is an excellent source of magnesium, providing 21 percent of the daily recommended amount. Opt for lightly salted, dry roasted almonds to get in some extra sodium too. (More: Magnesium Is the Micronutrient You Should Pay More Attention To)
Lentils are another good source of magnesium. One cup of cooked lentils provides 18 percent of the daily recommended amount of the micronutrient. Try sipping on a simple lentil soup, which can also help with rehydration. Lentils also provide fiber and protein, which can help keep you satisfied (aka help you avoid eating an entire pizza, like you want to) and also regulate your digestion...because you know the day after a few drinks can be a little iffy. (Related: Healthy, High-Fiber Lentil Recipes That Won't Weigh You Down)
Bananas are one of the best hangover foods and—even better news—you probably already have them in your kitchen. Bananas provide a double dose of hangover-friendly nutrients via potassium and magnesium. Plus, they're gentle on the stomach and contain soluble fiber. That's because bananas, like all fruit, are disaccharides (two single sugars combined), which are easy for the body to break down. One medium banana provides 105 calories, 12 percent the daily recommended amount of potassium, and 8 percent the daily recommended amount of magnesium. (Here are other reasons to eat more bananas.)
7. Chicken Breast
Once you're ready for a heftier meal, opt for some chicken breast, one of the best hangover foods, thanks to its cysteine. Cysteine is an amino acid your body needs to produce the antioxidant glutathione, which is used to breakdown the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism. Boozing decreases your body's stores of this antioxidant. Chicken has enough cysteine that it can help the body increase glutathione and possibly decrease those hangover symptoms.
8. Pickle Juice
Sip on pickle juice, which is high in sodium and potassium, both electrolytes lost during dehydration. Pickle juice has anywhere from 0 to 100 calories (depending on the pickling solution) and is also high in antioxidant vitamins C and E, which may help with some of the inflammation alcohol may cause. (P.S. You can even buy pre-bottled pickle juice shots designed to help soothe an upset stomach.)
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is well-known to help soothe an upset stomach and nausea, which is commonly associated with a hangover. Sip on a cup of ginger tea, add it into a fruit smoothie, or grate it into freshly squeezed juice or a warm bowl of soup. (Here are even more ginger recipes to try.)
10. Fruit and Vegetable Juice
A 2018 study in Preventive Nutrition and Food Science looked at the effects of fruit and vegetable juice on hangover symptoms, and researchers found that both thirst and headache symptoms were reduced significantly after drinking a mix of fruit and vegetable juice compared to water. (Related: This Hangover-Cure Juice Shot Is Basically the Exact Opposite of Tequila)
The scientists theorized that the antioxidant polyphenols in fruits and vegetables are to thank for this. The next time you have a hangover, enjoy your favorite blend of freshly squeezed fruit and/or vegetable juice.