Food is life and when backpacking it’s so important to fuel your body with the right foods. Long days out exploring in the sun can leave energy levels depleted and whilst it’s easy to reach for convenient snacks, hot climates offer an abundance of exotic fruits that will feed your body with nutrients and good sugars.
I’m currently travelling through Mexico where the breakfast tortas, tacos and empanadas are so readily available from street vendors. In comparison fruit and vegetables are only sold at mercados (local food markets) or dedicated fruiterias that tend to close by the late afternoon.
Although it takes that extra level of planning to ensure you’re stocked up with healthy snacks, I absolutely relish exploring the vibrant mercados and picking up new and unfamiliar fruits to try alongside your trusty favourites.
Watermelon is a fantastic fruit not only in colour, texture and refreshing flavour but it’s also packed full of vitamins that your body will benefit from two-fold.
Here are some reasons why watermelon is a winner:
1.Protects you from sunburn
Watermelon is rich in lycopene and beta-carotene which protects your skin from sunburn.
2.Reduces muscle soreness
All you need is 500ml of watermelon one hour before your workout for you to notice the effects in your muscle recovery afterwards.
How? Watermelons contain L-citrulline, an amino acid that is rarely found in natural fruits and foods.
Watermelon is 92% water, how incredible is that!
I confess that I’m not a massive fan of plain water so watermelon is a brilliant way for me to stay hydrated (or I usually squeeze limes and lemons into my water).
Our bodies need high levels of water to maintain optimal health including digestion so it’s brilliant that a single fruit can be so hydrating for you. It also makes you feel fuller.
4.Keeps you looking young
Watermelon plays an important part in anti-ageing because it’s packed full of Vitamin A and C, both of which stimulate collagen production.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and is the building block for our bones, muscles, skin, gut and more. The sad thing is, our body’s production of collagen naturally declines as we get older which is why our skin shows signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and sagging.
Vitamin C found in watermelon not only boosts our body’s production of collagen (yay!) but also helps heal damaged and dry skin.
One cup (154g) of watermelon contains 21% of our daily dose of Vitamin C.
Equally Vitamin A, a potent antioxidant, also stimulates collagen. But in addition to this, it stimulates the production of elastin too which is needed for skin to remain firm and supple.
Goodbye £80 night cream, Hello watermelon.
5.Keeps your heart healthy
Lycopene is what gives watermelon its red colour. It’s a potent antioxidant that neutralises free radicals to prevent heart disease and cancer.
1 cup of watermelon gives about 7-10mg of lycopene.
TIP: Leave your watermelon to really ripen. The redder it is, the higher concentration of lycopene.
6.Detoxes your kidneys
Watermelons contain lots of potassium, which is a mineral that aids the removal of toxins from our kidneys.
7.Clears up acne
I’ve always suffered from oily skin and adding hot weather and humidity to the mix can sometimes cause havoc on my face. By snacking on watermelon a few times a week, I’ve really noticed the impact of Vitamin A contained in the fruit.
As well as the properties of Vitamin A talked about above, it also cleverly reduces skin’s pore size and the amount of oil that your sebaceous glands secrete. Try it and comment below if you see the difference too!
8.Promotes Hair Growth
The amino acid citrulline that occurs naturally in watermelon increases our body’s level of arginine (another amino acid). Arginine helps the blood flow in our scalps, which encourages hair growth.
9.Boosts your libido
Yes, this is another brilliant benefit of watermelons! The citrulline in watermelon is the precursor for the synthesis of arginine which boosts your libido and can even cure impotence. Why not whizz up a batch of watermelon juice for two!
10.A great low calorie snack
One cup (154g) of watermelon is only 46 calories. Nom nom nom.
TIP: Watermelon is a fantastic mid morning or afternoon snack but avoid eating in the evening. Why? a) Due to its water content, you’ll find it might keep you up at night making trips to the bathroom. b)Our body’s ability to break down food slows in the evening so you may find your stomach churning trying to digest it. I’ve found this the case for any raw foods in the evening. Leave the salads and fruit for lunch and stick to cooked veggies and foods in the evening.
I hope you’ve found this helpful? Let me know what other fruits you love to eat to get your nutrients!