People often ask ‘what do surfers eat?’ well, anyone doing rigorous exercise is advised to eat protein-rich food for muscle building and whole grain carbohydrates for long lasting energy. But the biggest risk to surfers when it comes to their diet is dehydration. This makes sense because if you’re going to be out surfing in the hot sun all day, you definitely need to hydrate! One of the best ways to hydrate and get some necessary electrolytes is indulging in some Costa Rica fruits. There are many tropical fruits growing is Costa Rica that make ideal surfer food. Sampling nature’s bounty is a great way to experience Costa Rica on your surf trip and stay properly hydrated.
Fruit is a great source of natural electrolytes that our body needs, especially while doing physical activity in the heat of the day. Sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate are all important electrolytes that our bodies require to function and are important additions to the surfer food diet.
Avocado: Loaded with potassium, just one avocado can contain approximately 975mg of potassium. They are also high in fatty acids, which store energy, protect joints, and protect vital organs. Opt for a one-quarter serving of avocado on a slice of whole grain toast post-surf to refuel and rehydrate. And don’t forget about the guac! Guacamole is a popular appetizer served at many Costa Rican restaurants. While you will recognize the dark-skinned Mexican Hass avocado, be sure to try the Costa Rican avocado during your surf trip. It is bigger with a green, smooth skin. It is also much cheaper than the imported variety. Costa Rica has 19 varieties of this fruit. Called aguacate in Spanish, this super fruit is technically classified as a large berry.
Bananas: Considered to be very high in potassium, with 422mg per fruit, bananas are an ideal surfer food. Potassium helps control muscles and blood pressure. Without it you may experience sub-optimal muscle function. One of the best things about bananas is they come in their own portable pouch. They’re the perfect grab-n-go post-surf snack! Called banano in Spanish, bananas are cheap and widely available at any fruit stand or convenience store in Costa Rica. In fact, the country is the third largest supplier of the fruit worldwide.
Cas: Truly native to Costa Rica, the cas fruit is a small round fruit ranging from yellow to green when ripe. Although it is not a well-studied species, it is believed to rival blueberries in terms of antioxidants, making it a likely suspect in the super fruit category. Its glycemic index is low and can be consumed by those who eat a low sugar diet. Great for hydration, about 80 percent of the fruit is water weight. It is typically mixed with sugar and water for a traditional “fresco” or cold, fresh juice. You may be offered this when you ask for fresh fruit juice in a “soda”, or small local restaurant. Don’t hesitate to try it out!
Coconut: Considered Mother Nature’s Gatorade, coconut water is high in the electrolytes we lose after a surf session. It contains about 600mg of potassium and 252mg of sodium per cup and it has natural sugar that works well to replenish energy stores lost during exercise. It also contains calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, and is low calorie at 50mg per serving. You can find “pipa fria” or cold coconuts from vendors on the street or even from vendors pushing coolers along the beach. This perfect post-surf beverage will only set you back a dollar or two and comes with a hole on top and a straw for instant hydration!
Dragon fruit: One of the few fresh fruits that contain iron, dragon fruit is an important addition to the surfer food diet. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout your body and plays an important role in breaking down food into energy – both vital for anyone doing physical activity like surfing. It has been estimated that 30 percent of the world’s population is deficient in iron, making it the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide. One serving of dragon fruit contains eight percent of your recommended daily intake of iron. It also contains vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron. With a bright pink skin featuring green-tipped flaps or scales, the dragon fruit found in Costa Rica has white or bright pink flesh inside, with tiny black seeds that can be eaten. The dragon fruit is called pitaya in Costa Rica and makes a delicious and beautiful addition to a smoothie or cocktail.
Papaya: Native to Central America, the papaya in Costa Rica is big and flavorful compared to the ones exported to northern regions. Its bright orange flesh is rich in vitamin C and beta carotene, both powerhouse antioxidants and enzymes that fight inflammation in the body. It also contains choline, which is a nutrient that supports muscle movement and the structure of cellular membranes, helping to build up those surfing muscles. Papaya are widely found and inexpensive Costa Rica fruits. Often served alongside watermelon and pineapple with your breakfast, try squeezing lime juice on your papaya for a truly tropical and refreshing treat.
Pineapple: Costa Rica exports more pineapples than any other country, with over 40 percent of the total exported pineapples worldwide coming from the small Latin American country. Needless to say, you will find an abundance of the fruit during your Costa Rica surf trip and it couldn’t be fresher! Besides being loaded with vitamin C, pineapples contain bromelain, which is said to speed up muscle recovery after strenuous exercise by reducing inflammation around the damaged muscle tissue. In Costa Rica, you will find pineapple, or piña as it is called in Spanish, is often served alongside breakfast, in fresh juices, smoothies, cocktails, and eaten as a snack.
Plantain: Similar to the banana, the plantain is larger and starchier, making it a fruit that is best eaten cooked. Like its banana cousin, it is high in potassium and magnesium, but it is also high in fiber and carbohydrates. These are the kind of carbs that give you the energy you need out on the waves, making it a great surfer food. The versatile plantain is often served on the side of a “casado” or typical local dish, or fried for “patacones” (plantain chips) and served with mashed “frijoles” (beans) and “pico de gallo”, which is a sauce of chopped tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. You will be hard pressed to leave your surf trip in Costa Rica without being served platano, as it’s called in Spanish.
Rambutan: similar to the Lychee fruit, rambutan is a small red spiky fruit with a white, fleshy interior similar to a grape. The fruit is rich in vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant, protecting your body’s cells against damage from the sun. This makes it an important addition to the surfer diet. Eating 10 rambutan fruit will meet your daily vitamin C needs, and you won’t have any trouble downing at least that many of this juicy fruit! Called mamon chino in Costa Rica, this seasonal fruit is relatively cheap when it can be found, at about $5 a bag from roadside vendors. This is another fruit that is easy to carry with you and pop open a few for a snack as needed during your surf day.
Soursop: Covered in tough, spiky skin, this large, green fruit has an intensely sweet flavor similar to a strawberry. Considered a super food for its nutrient dense properties, soursop helps fight free radicals that cause inflammation, and relieve muscle tensions and spasms caused by injury or exercising. Since they are such a big fruit with large slippery seeds, most grocers and fruit vendors sell only small portions of the fruit. It is most often blended with water for a natural drink, which can commonly be found in stores near the produce section. Locally known as guanabana, the soursop is Costa Rica’s go-to fruit for refreshing smoothies.
Watermelon: A perfect natural hydrator, watermelon is loaded with good-for-you nutrients like natural sugars, potassium and water, and it’s much healthier than a store bought electrolyte drink. Snack on a cup or two of watermelon after your surf to boost energy and electrolytes, or order one of many fresh watermelon juices and smoothies being served at most restaurants in Costa Rica. The Spanish name for watermelon is sandia and it is widely available in Central America.
Costa Rica fruits are packed with almost everything you need to prepare or recover from your surf session. Not only are they good for you, but you’ll come home from your surf trip having truly tasted all the tropical flavor of Costa Rica!
By Jennifer LaCharite