Scientists claim drinking coconut water, pear and lime helps hangovers

Is this the ultimate hangover cure? Scientists claim drinking coconut water, pear and lime helps the body break alcohol down faster

  • The foods boost activity of two enzymes which help get rid of alcohol in the body
  • Cheese, tomato and cucumber also had significant effects when eaten alongside
  • Coffee was found to be a bad idea and may even prolong a hangover 
  • The foods were screened in a lab and the drink has not been tested on humans 

A full English breakfast, a big cup of coffee or even drinking more alcohol – the list of touted hangover cures is forever growing.

But scientists claim to have made one which really works.

A drink made of coconut water, pear and lime can boost the activity of two enzymes which break down alcohol inside the body, speeding up the morning after’s recovery, researchers claim. 

And for optimum effects the drink should be served alongside a plate of cheese, tomato and cucumber, they added.

The study also found coffee was the worst idea for a hangover and could actually prolong it, while green or black tea may help a little. 

The best hangover cure is not drinking too much the night before but, failing that, scientists claim a drink made of pear, lime and coconut water could help you recover the next day (stock image)

Dr Shraddha Srinivasan and colleagues at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, India, led the study.

‘A beverage made from a blend of sweet lime, pear, and coconut water could be used to overcome hangover,’ they said.

‘The consumption of this beverage with cheese, cucumber, and tomatoes may further alleviate the hangover symptoms.’

They explained how a hangover, characterised by a headache, fatigue and sometimes vomiting, affects different people in different ways and at varying speeds. 

This is due to a number of reasons including what the person drank, their genetics and how well their metabolism breaks down alcohol. 

When ethanol (alcohol) is poured into the body, it gets converted into acetaldehyde, the scientists explained. 

A build-up of acetaldehyde is what causes the hangover, and the body can’t fully recover until this has been destroyed and digested.


The Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai found pears, lime, cheese, tomato, cucumber, black tea and green tea boosted both enzymes.

The following boosted one enzyme: 

  • Dairy: Buttermilk, probiotic drink
  • Cereals: Wheat 
  • Spices: Mace, turmeric, ginger
  • Miscellaneous: Coconut water, dates, cocoa

The following foods were found to decrease the activity of both enzymes, and therefore are best to be avoided when you have a hangover:

  • Dairy: Milk
  • Cereals: Oats, peanuts, millet, sorghum, maize 
  • Spice: Pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon, cassia
  • Miscellaneous: Vitamin C, coffee, eggs, commercial anti-hangover product

The naturally-occurring enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), found in the liver, and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), found in the liver, kidneys, and lung, have the ability to wipe out acetaldehyde – but don’t always act fast enough.

So Dr Srinivasan tested a variety of foods in a lab to see how they affected the action of the two enzymes. They tested fruits, vegetables, cereals, spices, dairy and random items like coffee. 

Pear, limes, coconut water, cheese, tomato and cucumber came out top. However, it was not realistic to blend these together in a drink so the researchers used taste testers to help them create a realistic, usable cure.

Using the preferences of a panel of 15 people and the considering the scientific benefits of each food, they decided the best formula would be 65 per cent pear, 25 per cent lime and 10 per cent coconut water. 

This product was able to boost the activity of the ADH and ALDH enzymes by 23per cent and 70 per cent, respectively, they found – speeding up the hangover process. 

The study added that claims trendy foods rich in antioxidants could cure a hangover had no scientific evidence to back them up.  

Samples of buttermilk, cheese and a commercial prebiotic drink showed an increase in the activity of the ALDH. 

Few were able to improve the activity of both enzymes, but made an improvement on one – lemon had a huge impact on ADH but caused a decrease in ALDH, while oranges had the opposite effect.

Foods which didn’t have an effect on either enzyme include black grapes, gooseberrys, garlic, coriander, or ‘commercial hangover products’.

The researchers added: ‘Coffee decreased the ALDH activity by a large magnitude; hence it is not advisable to consume coffee post alcohol intake as it might lead to acetaldehyde build-up resulting in prolonged hangover.’

The study was published in the journal Current Research in Food Science. 

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