Today we’re talking about the Health benefits of Okpa. Okpa is also known as Bambara Nut pudding, and it’s a widely enjoyed delicacy in Nigeria.
Bambara nut or Bambara beans (Vigna subterranea) is a nutritious legume and a popular staple food in Africa. It is a drought-resistant legume with different species that come in small pods that can be cracked open to obtain the hard seed.
It’s locally called Okpa in Igbo, Epa-roro in Yoruba, Kwaruru/Gurjya in Hausa, Nyima in Zimbabwe, Ntoyo cibemba in the Republic of Zambia, Jugo beans/ indlubu in South Africa, Njugu mawe in Kenya, Agbaroro in Sierra Leone, Njogo bean in Central Africa, Nzama/Njama in Malawi, Aboboi/Akyii in Ghana, Vonajobory/ Pistache malagache in Madagascar, and Kachang Manila in Malaysia.
The nuts have a naturally delicious flavour. Bambara groundnuts can be roasted or processed into flour for making Bambara milk or juice. Bambara groundnut flour is also used in cooking, particularly in the making of Okpa, which can be eaten along with Pap (Akamu or ogi) and Garri.
Health Benefits of Bambara Nut.
Okpa has all the essential nutrients that your body needs. As a result, it is beneficial in the prevention of malnutrition and other health problems associated with malnutrition such as Kwashiorkor, Marasmus, and Rickets. All these conditions are triggered or caused by poor and inadequate dieting.
The iron and other essential elements contained in okpa help in the formation of healthy red blood cells that carry the hemoglobin that’s responsible for oxygen transport throughout the body, thereby preventing and treating Anemia.
Bambara nut contains antioxidants which in turn produces/creates serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that helps in mood regulation, improves sleep/sleeping pattern and memory.
Okpa provides strength, which can help alleviate the symptoms caused by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) which comes with “Extreme Exhaustion” or tiredness and is a disease which medically, there is no clue of what causes it or how it can be cured.
Okpa helps prevent diarrhea and irritable bowel movement syndromes. It also serves as an appetite suppressant, which is useful for weight management (weight loss).
Promotes Bone Health:
Okpa is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which helps protect the body from Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and other related bone diseases. Not only that, but Okpa also contains lysine, which is an amino acid commonly found in beans and other protein foods. This amino acid helps in the proper absorption of calcium in the body.
In women, some of its benefits is seen in the regulation of the menstrual cycle, including prolonged (amenorrhea) and heavy flow cycles (dysmenorrhea).
Boosts Immune System:
Beverages and foods made from Bambara nuts are high in probiotics that help maintain and grow good bacteria in our gut, which is very important for our health. They are also necessary for healing Diverticulitis, IBS, IBD, and Crohn’s disease. Bambara nuts contain lots of antioxidants that help to prevent illness, in general, as well as heal and prevent DNA damage and stomach cancer.
Protects Heart health:
Consuming Bambara nuts help lower cholesterol, preventing heart attacks and strokes.
According to Akpalu et al. (2013), white seeds are mixed with guinea fowl meat as a treatment for diarrhea while black seeds are mixed with water to treat sick children, ground to treat skin rashes or chewed to alleviate swollen jaw diseases.