The Reason Some Think Balut Can Cure A Hangover

If you find yourself hungover in the Philippines, the Travel Channel has a suggestion: balut. What is balut? It's boiled, fertilized duck embryo, and it's traditionally used in the Philippines to fix what ails you after a big night on the town. The taste isn't all that different from that of a chicken egg, but its texture ranges from creamy to crunchy, depending on how long the embryo is allowed to develop (via Culture Trip). Balut is a popular street food in the Philippines, often peddled by street vendors in residential areas or in markets in Manila, especially at night (via The Takeout). 

While it may not be familiar to the American or European palate, balut is a hearty snack that shouldn't be missed. According to The Takeout, balut is considered an energy booster, good for students preparing to study or laborers fueling up for the strenuous commute home. As for balut's reputation as a hangover cure, don't write it off as another "miracle" cure with no basis in science just yet.

Balut has an amino acid that might cure hangovers

Researchers in Finland conducted a study to establish the impact of L-cysteine, an amino acid, on hangovers. The study suggested that L-cysteine can reduce most hangover symptoms, including headaches, nausea, and anxiety (via Healthline). The study should be taken with a grain of salt, however. It included a small number of subjects and therefore couldn't yield definitive results. Besides that, a company that sells L-cysteine supplements paid for the study — always a red flag.

Whatever the validity of the study on L-cysteine and hangovers, what might it have to do with a duck embryo delicacy from the Philippines? Balut contains cysteine, which the Travel Channel says is known to help break down toxins in the liver. The Filipino treat has a lot of other nutrients, too, according to SF Gate, including vitamin C, B vitamins, protein, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. 

As The Takeout notes, regular consumers of balut will often eat them while drinking alcohol, not the morning after. This was confirmed by the South China Morning Post. "The best way to eat balut is when it's piping hot after being steamed or boiled and either dipped in spicy sauce or on its own, and always with an iced cold beer," Filipino caterer Dennis Vallanueva told the newspaper. With this in mind, you might try your own unscientific study: Take your balut with your alcohol, and see if it might prevent hangovers as well as potentially cure them.