Having a Banana as a hangover cure is one of the oldest tricks in the book.
But does eating a banana when hungover really help?
As with most health-related advice, there are a lot of natural hangover cure myths out there. In this article, we aim to take a closer look into whether bananas have any benefits for hangovers, based on science.
Banana health facts
To see whether bananas are good to eat for hangovers, we first need to see what it’s made of. After all, if it’s going to work, it’s going to be due to the nutrients bananas contain.
1 medium-sized banana contains approximately:
- Calories: 89
- Water: 75%
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Sugar in the form of Fructose, glucose, and sucrose: 12.2 grams
- Fiber: 2.6 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
Bananas are also a good source of several vitamins and minerals. We’ve presented the nutritional value as the percentage daily reference value (DV) which means how much of your daily requirement bananas contain:
- Potassium: 10%
- Vitamin B6: 20%
- Vitamin C: 14%
- Magnesium: 6%
So now that we know exactly what’s in a banana, let’s see if any of these natural ingredients are good for hangovers.
Are bananas good for hangovers?
Before we start this section, it’s important to mention that, when you’ve woken up with a hangover, the damage caused by alcohol has already happened.
Any measures that are taken in the morning to try and recover from your hangover are futile. Therefore, when it comes to hangovers, prevention is always key.
Drinking within your limits, keeping well hydrated and having a meal before going out should be enough to prevent the worst hangovers.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at the nutrients in bananas to see if they can aid recovery.
Drinking alcohol, and in particular binge drinking, is known to affect glucose levels in people with diabetes. This effect is not so relevant in people who don’t have diabetes.(1)
Nevertheless, bananas are a decent source of energy, much like other fruits.
Fructose is one of the main sugars in fruits like banana. There are some studies which have shown that fructose can increase alcohol metabolism.(2)
Although not necessarily beneficial for hangovers, eating fruit like banana at the end of your night may be a better alternative than greasy food which most of us turn to. However, this hasn’t been proven.
Potassium is a mineral that is very tightly regulated in your body. Your kidneys control your blood potassium levels by adjusting how much is retained and lost in your urine. Small deviations from the safe levels can have life-threatening consequences.
There’s a common misconception that eating fruit like bananas, which is high in potassium, is good for you.
This is because almost everything you eat has some potassium in it. It’s an abundant mineral that never requires supplementation. If you’re in good health, you’ll never be deficient.
In fact, eating potassium-rich foods in people who have underlying kidney dysfunction can be very dangerous.
Therefore, potassium is not really relevant when it comes to hangovers.
Bananas are a great source of vitamin B6 which is involved in the metabolism of the nutrients you consume, including alcohol. Your body cannot produce vitamin B6, so you must obtain it from foods or supplements.
A healthy balanced diet should give you more than enough vitamin B6 without the need for supplementation.
Periods of over-indulgence can increase your requirement of vitamin B6. It’s one of the most common vitamin deficiencies seen in chronic alcohol abuse.(3)
Studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplementation before and during drinking alcohol reduced hangover symptoms by 50%.(4)
That said, this study is from the 1970s and only had 11 test subjects. Therefore, the results should be interpreted with a pinch of salt.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that neutralizes free-radicals. Free-radicals are produced as a by-product of metabolism and cause inflammation and damage if left unchecked.
Whether vitamin C is good for hangovers has been unproven.
Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you lose more water from your kidneys. Along with water, you also lose minerals like magnesium.(5)
Although studies have shown that magnesium levels drop with acute and chronic alcohol consumption, whether restoring these levels helps with hangovers is as yet unproven.
Do bananas cure hangovers?
When it comes to the science of hangovers, there’s a lot that still hasn’t been proven scientifically. Bananas are a great source of healthy nutrients.
With that said, bananas definitely won’t cure your hangover.
Hangover symptoms are a sign from your body that you’ve been drinking too much and are caused by several damaging effects of alcohol. The best way to cure your hangover is to limit your drinking and keep well hydrated.
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What about banana smoothies?
Depending on what banana smoothie you have, it’ll usually contain milk, honey or other fruits.
Bananas for hangover nausea
Unfortunately, this is another old wives tale. Hangover nausea is caused by many different factors including increased stomach acid secretion, inflammation, and stomach motility issues to mention a few.
It’s unlikely that a banana will be able to solve all these issues. When you’re feeling sick in the morning, it’s probably best to stick to plain carbohydrates like bread or pasta which are easy to digest.
Other than this, ginger is a great natural remedy that reduces nausea.
Are bananas a good hangover food? – Final verdict
That brings us to the end of our look at bananas and whether they are good for hangovers.
We’ve walked you through the basic things you need to know about the nutritional content of bananas, and revealed how certain nutrients may help.
Generally speaking, bananas are not a hangover cure and it’s unlikely that they’ll have any significant benefit for hangovers.
making sure to drink within your limits, keep well hydrated and eat before going out will go a long way in preventing the worst hangovers.