10 Reasons Why Your Diet Needs Bambara Nut (Okpa)
Many Nigerians today have ignored the various local superfoods that we grow in the country, One of such local foods is the Bambara nut. They prefer to indulge in imported and processed foods that are laden with preservatives.
This has caused an increase in the number of individuals with chronic diseases and obesity. It is important that we embrace our natural and local foods so that we can reap the various benefits these foods possess.
Bambara Nut Overview
Bambara nut (Okpa) is a nutritious superfood common in Africa. Bambara nut is a legume that is commonly grown in Africa and Asia. It is considered the third most common major legume after groundnut and cowpeas in Africa.
Bambara nut is a drought-resistant legume and comes from a variety of species. The whole plant of Bambara nut is known to improve the soil because it can trap nitrogen from the atmosphere. Bambara nut is tolerant of pests and diseases, especially in hot conditions. Like other legume plants, Bambara nut is a good soil fertilizer and a good crop for rotational farming.
It does not require any additional fertilizer. It is generally intercropped with cereals (maize, Guinea corn, and millet), other pulses (cowpea, groundnut), root and tuber crops, or vegetables. Its botanical name is Vigna subterranea. It is a member of the family Fabaceae.
Bambara nut is called Okpa in the Igbo language, Epa-roro in Yoruba, and Kwaruru/Gurjya in Hausa. Interestingly, Bambara nut is also a staple food in other African countries. In Zimbabwe, for example, it is called Nyimo beans; Zambians call it Ntoyo Cibemba and the South Africans refer to it as Izindlubu.
Other names this superfood is known as include Bambara groundnut, Bambara nut, earth pea, Bambara bean, Congo goober, ground-bean, and hog-peanut
Bambara nut can be roasted and salted, boiled similar to other beans, or processed into flour and used in making Bambara nut pudding ( Okpa). Bambara milk or juice can also be made from nuts. Okpa can be eaten with Akamu or Garri.
100gm of Bambara nut seeds contain:
Carbohydrates: 65 g
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Dietary Fibre: 6 g
Energy: 412 kcal
Fats: 6 – 6.5 grams
Moisture content: 1.5 – 2.16 g
Protein: 15 – 20 g
Trans fat: 0 mg
Calcium: 14 – 18 mg
Potassium: 58 – 81mg
Phosphorus: 165 – 187 mg
Magnesium: 50 – 69 mg
Sodium: 19 – 26 mg
Iron: 0.15 mg
10 Reasons why your Diet needs Bambara Nut (Okpa)
Below are the various reasons why your diet needs Bambara nut.
1. Prevents malnutrition
Okpa has all the important nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. It helps to prevent malnutrition and diseases caused by malnutrition such as kwashiorkor, rickets and marasmus.
Bambara nut’s nutrients consist of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals such as iron, manganese, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, calcium, fluoride, phosphorus, sodium, and copper.
Just like African locust beans, Bambara nut also prevents anaemia. It contains iron which helps in the production of haemoglobin in the red blood cells in the body. It also increases the number of red blood cells.
Anaemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells. When this occurs, it affects the transportation of oxygen around the body. Anaemia also occurs if the concentration of haemoglobin in the red blood cells is lower than it should be.
3. Bone health
Bambara nuts are good for healthy bones, as it contains calcium. The poor bone condition can cause rickets, osteoporosis, and the risk of falling and breaking a bone later in life. Calcium keeps the bones strong and dense.
Calcium also helps with muscle movement, and the ability of nerves to transport messages between the brain and other parts of the body. Calcium also helps the blood vessels to move blood all around the body and helps release hormones that affect many functions in the body.
Okpa contains various antioxidants which help to prevent chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and cancer. Oha leaf, another Igbo delicacy, is full of antioxidants. These antioxidants help to destroy free radicals that are harmful to the body.
Antioxidants hunt for free radicals in the body cells and reduce or prevent the damage caused by oxidation. The body cells are threatened every day by infections and viruses that attack them. Free radicals also damage DNA and cells.
Antioxidants help protect the body from all these. Adding Okpa to one’s diet is an important means of introducing more antioxidants into the body.
5. Weight loss
Bambara nut is ideal for weight loss as it is a protein-rich food and therefore, thermogenic in nature. Thermogenic foods boost the internal temperature of the body, creating a series of events that lead to increased metabolic rate, fat oxidation, and hence, fat burn.
As a protein-rich food, Okpa is more satiating and helps you feel fuller longer, hence, reducing the total number of calories consumed.
Bambara nut is a good food to relieve insomnia. It contains antioxidants that help produce serotonin, a mood stabilizer. Serotonin helps to produce healthy sleeping patterns and boosts one’s mood.
Bambara nut does not have any side effects. They are safe to eat in food amounts. Consuming a lot of Okpa can lead to weight gain. Since there is no certain therapeutic dosage for them, they should be consumed as part of a healthy food regimen rather than as a medicine.
How to prepare Bambara nut pudding ( Okpa)
1. Buy okpa seeds and dehull it
2. After dehulling, grind it into very fine powder
3. Pour one cup of okpa flour into a mortar or a blender
4. Add one cup of warm water to the okpa and turn with a pestle, or mix in a blender or food processor
5. Mix till it is watery. A thick mix will make the okpa too strong when it is done
6. Turn it till it is a drawing and creamy constituency
7. Then add two spoons of oil, pepper and salt to taste
8. Mix all together
9. Pour into cups and put in a pot of boiling water
10. Cook for thirty minutes
11. When it is done, eat while it is warm.
How to Prepare Bambara Nut Drink
1 cup of boiled Bambara nuts
A quarter Beetroot
Half ginger root
1. Wash and boil the Bambara nut, then peel off the thick skin
2. Chop the beetroot, apple and ginger into pieces
3. Add all ingredients into the blender. Add little water and blend very well for about five minutes
4. Your drink is ready to be enjoyed.
Bambara nut (Okpa) is an important food to add to one’s diet. It is quite nutritious and provides a balanced diet to one’s regimen. Endeavour to include Okpa in your diet today.