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Why Clear Alcohol Might Prevent Your Hangover

A bar features multiple bottles of dark and light liquors.

As much as we all love to indulge in a few drinks now and then, the dreaded hangover that follows can make us severely regret our choices. Is there any way you can still enjoy your nights out while preventing a debilitating hangover?

Yes, you actually can learn how to prevent a hangover. Part of doing so could be about the alcohol choices you make—like choosing light over dark liquors.

Food & Wine interviewed certified nutritionist and personal trainer Sloane Davis all about this topic. Here’s the general rule of thumb: the darker the alcohol, the more severe the hangover will be, while clear alcohols are known for causing minimal hangovers. Why? Because of congeners.

The color of the alcohol matters because of what tends to be in those dark-color drinks. Dark rums, whiskies, scotch, red wine, and so on should be on your “beware of a hangover” list because of congeners.

Congeners are small amounts of various chemicals found in alcohol that contribute to the severity of a hangover. When yeast ferments sugars, converting them to alcohol, the amino acids in sugar become ethanol. Cogeners are created as a by-product of the reaction. Darker alcohols tend to have much higher levels of congeners, while clear alcohols have lower levels. That means light rum, gin, white wine, and vodka are all “better” options when it comes to avoiding cogeners.

If you’re planning a night out, you might want to stick to clear alcohol as a way to avoid a hangover as well as eating beforehand and drinking plenty of water. But of course, the best way to avoid hangovers is to avoid excess alcohol consumption. Stick to moderate consumption, and you should be fine.

But if you want to be extra sure to skip the hangover, you can always try non-alcoholic drinks.

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