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Is tomato juice good for a hangover? If you’re asking this question, chances are you’ve tried every other trick in the book to cure your hangover, but nothing worked as you wanted.
Tomato juice is the main ingredient in a bloody mary which is famous for being the main choice of drink when hungover. However, a bloody mary contains alcohol which will only delay the inevitable hangover that will follow. Drinking to cure your hangover is also known as “the hair of the dog” and is not recommended.
Naturally, you may be thinking, does a virgin mary (i.e tomato juice) have any benefits for a hangover?
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the nutrients in tomato juice to see whether it’s a good juice to drink when hungover.
Tomato juice benefits
95% of a tomato’s weight is made up of water. The other 5% consists mainly of carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins.
An average-sized tomato weighing around 100g contains approximately the following nutrients
- Calories: 18
- Water: 95%
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Sugar: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Vitamin C. One medium-sized tomato can provide about 30% of your daily requirements.
- Vitamin K
- Folate (vitamin B9).
- Lycopene: has potential antioxidant properties.(1)
A glass of tomato juice will contain many tomatoes so the nutritional content may be higher. It’s important to mention that ready-made tomato juice from a carton may contain fewer nutrients as they are often watered down. In addition, the tomato juice you buy from a store can contain added sugars and preservatives.
Now that we’ve got the basic nutritional information out the way, we’ll see if any of these are good for hangovers.
Is Tomato Juice good for a hangover?
Before we get into whether drinking tomato juice has any benefits for a hangover, we first need to go over how hangovers affect your body in the first place.
Firstly, alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes your kidneys flush out more water and therefore causing dehydration. Secondly, alcohol severely disrupts sleep quality. Finally, one of the main by-products of alcohol metabolism is called acetaldehyde which is a toxic substance. During periods of over-indulgence, acetaldehyde levels start to build up as your liver struggles to handle the excess load. As a result, acetaldehyde starts to react with your cells causing inflammation.(2)
So, can the nutrients in tomato juice help hangovers?
In the first instance, tomato juice is mostly water which will help rehydrate you. It also contains a decent amount of vitamin C which is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants support your liver in neutralizing the by-products of alcohol metabolism.
Overall, you’re unlikely to see a great difference in drinking tomato juice for your hangover. Hangovers are caused by several different damaging effects of alcohol which tomato juice may only have a negligible impact on.
The bottom line: tomato juice is unlikely to have a significant beneficial impact on hangovers. That said, it’s a healthy juice which you can always try to see if helps you.
What does the research say?
A research group from Japan found that tomato juice fortified with alanine (an amino acid) reduced alcohol absorption in rats.(3)
The same group then repeated the test in humans and found similar results.(4)
Essentially, they concluded that alcohol is held in the stomach for longer in the presence of tomato juice and alanine. As a result, it’s absorbed much less slowly which allows your liver to metabolize the alcohol in your bloodstream. Many of the test subjects also reported less of a hangover the morning after.
It’s important to highlight that this test was only performed in twenty male subjects and, therefore, it’s only preliminary research.
When to drink tomato juice for hangovers
Although the benefits of tomato juice for a hangover are probably quite small, you may want to try it anyway.
When it comes to hangovers, prevention is key. Trying to “cure” a hangover when you’ve woken up in the morning with a pounding headache, nausea and a dry mouth is unlikely to be of many benefits. The reason is, by this stage, the damage is already done.
Therefore, if tomato juice is going to help at all, you should consider drinking it after your last drink. At least this way, at the very least, the water in tomato juice will help rehydrate you.
The studies mentioned above also gave tomato juice before any alcohol was consumed.
Any downsides drinking tomato juice for a hangover?
The only thing to be aware of is that depending on your source of tomato juice, it can be slightly acidic which may unsettle your already fragile stomach. Furthermore, tomatoes are a common trigger for heartburn. (5)(6)
Other than this, tomato juice is a healthy refreshing drink that shouldn’t cause any problems.
Anything else to consider?
Hangovers are a sign from your body that you’ve been drinking too much for your liver to handle.
The best way to prevent the worst hangovers is to drink less and at a slower pace, keep well hydrated throughout your night with regular water breaks and eat before going out. These simple steps will go a long way in preventing the worst hangovers.
Tomato juice for a hangover – The verdict
That brings us to the end of our look at whether tomato juice is good for a hangover or not.
We’ve walked you through the basic things you need to know about the causes of a hangover, as well as the nutritional benefits of tomatoes.
Overall, it’s unlikely that tomato juice is going to have a real impact on improving your hangover symptoms.
That said, it doesn’t do any harm trying and many people swear by drinking tomato juice to cure their hangovers.
If you’re interested in juices that may be beneficial for a hangover, check out our article on: the best juices for a hangover.