Okpa is a delicacy that is popular in Eastern Nigeria. It’s made with Bambara nuts or Bambara beans. Okpa is one of the healthy Nigerian snacks you should try. Today, you will find out the nutritional contents of okpa, as well as the health benefits of okpa.
To start with, Okpa is best known as “Okpa” in Igbo, “Epa-Roro” in Yoruba, and “Kwaruru” or “Gurjiya” in (Hausa).
Nutritional Value of Okpa (Bambara nut pudding)
A study was done in 2019 to determine the Nutritional Composition and Glycemic Index of local Bambara nut pudding. The study found out that okpa was extremely rich protein. It also showed that okpa contained essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins, including potassium, carbohydrates, phosphorus, fat, manganese, tryptophan, lysine, valine, fibre, iron, magnesium, calcium, fluoride, zinc, selenium, sodium, copper, and the host of others. The glycemic index of okpa is 54, which makes it great for patients with diabetes. Now let’s move on to the health benefits of okpa. 
Health Benefits of Okpa
The heakth benefits of okpa are based on its rich nutritional properties. Find them out below:
1. Helps Prevent Malnutrition
Malnutrition occurs when there is lack of sufficient nutrients in the body. This is very common mostly in developing countries where families cannot afford or access nutrient-dense foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, meat and milk. Other than poor diet, some other things that may result in malnutrition include –digestive conditions or certain health conditions.
On the plus side, okpa contains all the essential nutrients that the body needs, meaning it can help boost your overall health and also reduce the risk of malnutrition, marasmus, kwashiorkor, rickets, and other health problems caused by poor diet and nutrient deficit. 
2. A great remedy for Insomnia
Okpa is a great remedy for those having difficulty in sleeping. This is mainly because it sports some potent sleep-inducing properties, including tryptophan that stimulates the production of niacin and serotonin to help regulate mood, keep the memory calm, and boost sleep quality.
3. Boosts the level of Blood and Prevents Anemia
Anemia occurs when human blood does not have the required quantity of healthy red blood cells. It usually develops as a result of a lack of red blood cells or dysfunctional red blood cells in the body, which may further reduce the oxygen flowing into various organs of the body.
More importantly, okpa is a great source of iron and some other vital nutrients known for boosting the body’s blood level. With these nutrients, your body will be able to form healthy red blood cells and promote an adequate flow of oxygen throughout the body.
4. Improves bone health and Prevents osteoporosis
Okpa is an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus, both of which improve bone health and shield it against bone-related diseases, including arthritis, osteoporosis, to name a few. It also contains ‘lysine’, an amino acid that promotes proper absorption of calcium in the body so as to make it function excellently. That’s not all; the properties in okpa also stimulate the production of collagen, which plays a crucial role in the formation of connective tissues in the body, including tendon, skin cartilage and bones.
Apart from bone formation, here are some other benefits you stand to gain when you eat a calcium-rich food like okpa – Adequate Oral formation, Improved strength, Optimal muscles movement, Quick transfer of messages between the brain and other body parts, Adequate blood flow throughout the body, to mention but a few.
Not okay with okpa? Below are other calcium-dense foods with great health benefits – Dairy products [cheese, milk and yogurt, etc.], Dark green leafy vegetables [broccoli, kale, etc.], Fish with edible soft bones [sardines, canned salmon, etc.]
5. Boosts the Immune System
Okpa contains valine, an essential amino acid that helps in regulating the immune system and the body’s nitrogen content. It also plays a vital role in the smooth nervous system, cognitive functioning, and maintaining muscles. One thing about this property is that your body cannot produce it, meaning that you must obtain it through either food or supplements, including okpa, kidney beans, leafy vegetables, poultry and milk.
Some other health benefits of valine include – improved sleep quality, reduced risk of muscle disorders, boosted satiety, improved body posture accelerated muscle growth, increased metabolism and exercise endurance, among others.
Other Health Benefits of Okpa:
- Prevents diarrhea and other irritable bowel movement syndromes
- Regulates menstrual flow
- Reduces the effect of ulcer
- Lowers ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels
- Okpa is great for pregnancy, because it contains essential nutrients for child development.
- Okpa is also a healthy Nigerian food for toddlers.
Okpa is highly nutritious and boasts of a lot of health benefits, including reduced risk of malnutrition, improved sleep quality, increased blood level, healthy bones, prevention against cancer, increased strength, etc.
Although this food crop has no known negative effects, it is best, you consume it in a moderate manner to be on the safe side.