6 Proven Reasons why your Diet needs Bambara Nut (Okpa)

Published by Jenny Wonders on

6 proven reasons why your diet needs Bambara nut (okpa)

Bambara Nut (Okpa) is a delicious superfood that is enjoyed by many Africans and it is scientifically called Vigna subterranea.

It is a drought-resistant legume that grows in West African countries (Nigeria, Cameroun, and Chad). Other names for this wonderful complete food are Bambara bean, Bambara groundnut, condo goober, earthpea, ground-bean, and hog-peanut.

The nuts are incredibly nutrient-dense and loaded with lots of vitamins and minerals. They help in improving blood glucose control, boosting immune health, improving bone health, as well as providing the body with minerals and vitamins.

This article explores the nutritional content of Bambara beans, its health benefits, and a range of tasty ways to include it in your diet.

Nutrition Facts of Bambara nut

Barbara nuts are very nutritious and filling. They contain essential nutrients and minerals, that is comparable to the amount found in milk products.

Per 100 grams of Bambara nut seeds contains:

  • Energy: 412 kcal
  • Fats: 6 – 6.5 grams (g)
    • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams (mg)
    • Trans fat: 0 mg
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Carbohydrates: 65 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 6 g
  • Moisture content: 1.5 – 2.16 g

And essential minerals:

  • Calcium: 14 – 18 mg
  • Iron: 0.15 mg
  • Potassium: 58 – 81mg
  • Phosphorus: 165 – 187 mg
  • Magnesium: 50 – 69 mg
  • Sodium: 19 – 26 mg

The nuts also contain trace amounts of vitamin C, selenium, zinc, and copper. 

Note: Information is based on per 100g of nuts and approximate values are provided.

Health Benefits of Bambara nut

Bambara nuts have the following top six health benefits:

1. Diabetes management

6 proven reasons why your diet needs Bambara nut (okpa)
Okpa wrapped in Banana Leaves

Bambara nuts contain a high essential amino acid profile that is comparable to that of soybeans making it a superfood that helps regulates blood glucose levels.

A 2008 study showed that blood glucose response was significantly reduced when compared to a bread diet for both diabetes and non-diabetes. The results further indicated that blood glucose response was better with Bambara nut dumplings (okpa) than beans cake (moi-moi).

Suggesting that bambara nut dumplings (okpa) is a better diet for diabetic patients. 

Related: 10 surprising reasons why you should add Black-eyed peas (Cowpeas) to your diet.

2. Bone health

Bambara nuts contain calcium and phosphorus which is essential for healthy and strong bones especially in the elderly.

The nuts also contain lysine – an amino acid commonly found in beans and other protein foods. This amino acid helps the body to absorb more calcium and reduce the loss of calcium in the urine, thereby protecting bone health.

3. Cancer Prevention

Bambara groundnut seeds have the highest concentration of soluble fiber and antioxidants when compared with other legumes.

Soluble fiber is a micronutrient believed to reduce colon cancer and cardiovascular disease.

6. Boosts immune health

Barbara nuts contain antioxidants like vitamin C and iron.

These antioxidants reduce the incidence of heart diseases, boost immunity, and help prevent cancer.

Antioxidants are known to protect the body from harmful food chemicals and toxins. 

5. Promotes digestion

Bambara nuts are high in dietary fiber, which helps promote regularity, prevent constipation, and maintain a healthy digestive tract.

6. Malnutrition and pregnancy

Barbara groundnuts are a true quality protein food, they provide more methionine (essential amino acid) than any other grain legumes, let alone the standard staple cereals.

The nuts provide 412 kilocalories of energy per 100g of nuts and provide the body with protein, fats, and carbohydrates. It is a rare example of a complete food.

The high protein content protects young children kwashiorkor (protein deficiency) and prevents anemia in pregnancy.

The nuts also help in insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heavy/prolonged menstruation.

Culinary Use

6 Proven reasons why your diet needs Bambara nut (okpa)
Okpa garnished with vegetables

Barbara groundnuts are boiled, salted, and eaten as a relish or roasted and eaten as a snack.

In the eastern part of Nigeria, bambara nuts are ground into a fine powder. The powder is then mixed with palm oil, salt, and pepper before being boiled into a cakey pudding (dumplings) to make “okpa”. Okpa is a delicious breakfast food common in Enugu, Nsukka, and Ngwo Nigeria.

In other parts of Africa, the nuts are processed into a flour and used in baking. They are also processed into probiotic beverages and used as a substitute for milk.

The Bottom line

Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea) is the third most important legume in the world. The only downside is that this wonder nut is highly under-utilized and neglected.

Healthy legumes like bambara nuts, black-eyed peas (Nigerian beans), and pigeon peas are recommended and should be added to your diets, especially in the diet of growing children and women of childbearing age.

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Jenny Wonders

Jenny Wonders is a pharmacist and editor at Healthful Wonders. She enjoys writing evidence-based articles on health, wellness, beauty, fitness, and natural remedies. At her spare time you can find her testing new culinary skills and researching.

2 Comments

chantel · July 29, 2020 at 1:15 pm

Hello Jenny. Good work well done.

Samuel · July 30, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Wow….very informative..waiting for your next post

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