Okpa (Bambara groundnut) is a traditional food that is popular in Eastern Nigeria. The tasty delicacy is loved by children, adults, and can be served as a family meal.
Though the delicacy does not require tons of ingredients, yet it tastes good. Okpa is prepared from ground Bambara groundnut, palm oil, pepper, salt, and seasoning cubes. And all of these ingredients can be easily sourced locally.
So, is Okpa protein or carbohydrate?
Okpa is an excellent source of carbohydrates and protein. A Bambara seed is rich in carbohydrates (49-63%) and protein (15-25%). It also contains a decent amount of other nutrients such as fat, fiber, and minerals. But as with other legumes, Bambara nuts are mostly carbohydrates with some proteins.
The fact that this delicacy is nutritious is fascinating as its preparation requires few ingredients and still offers impressive health benefits.
Whether you’re already familiar with this delicacy or just looking for its specific health benefits, this post contains valuable information about the nutritional and overall health benefits of Okpa as contained in the major ingredient, Bambara nut.
Health Benefits of Okpa
Bambara nut is termed complete food, meaning it has all the essential nutrients, including protein and carbohydrates, needed in the human diet.
To determine how beneficial the delicacy is, let’s see some of the nutrients found in Bambara groundnut.
Very high protein content makes the local delicacy desirable for everyone, including older adults, pregnant women, and kids.
First, protein is a macronutrient and required in large amounts needed to execute essential processes in the body. Apart from being the building block of muscles, skin, bones, cartilage, and blood, protein also helps replace worn-out tissues.
Health seniors need higher protein intake to preserve their muscle mass and strength as they age. As a rich source of protein, Bambara nuts are suitable for inclusion in an aging adult’s diet.
Protein is also essential during pregnancy. During this period, experts recommend 75 to 100 protein grams per day. Getting the right amounts will positively affect the growth of the fetal tissue. For the mother, protein helps grow the breast and uttering tissue.
Also, kids need an ample supply of protein for muscle development, hormones growth, and healthy living. No wonder kids in the eastern part of the country love this meal.
Regardless of your age and for a traditional delicacy that packs health benefits, this local delicacy is one food to incorporate into your diet.
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Carbohydrates are turned into glucose to supply the energy needed for the nervous system, brain, and other essential activities in the body.
Carbohydrate is also a macronutrient needed in large amounts to meet body calorie requirement. To get sufficient daily calories, taking foods rich in carbs plays a considerable role.
While too much carbohydrate can negatively affect your body, getting the right amounts improves your health. As a complete food, the ample carbohydrates content in the Bambara groundnut makes it a perfect meal.
The decent amount of fat in the groundnut has many benefits. Vitamin A, vitamin E, and other fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fat tissue. To ensure these nutrients serve their functions well, your body needs fat.
For example, these nutrients help with healthy skin, blood clotting, inflammation, and strong bones.
Also, healthy or good fats can lower the risk of stroke and heart diseases.
However, we are not suggesting you double your fat intake. Instead, incorporate a healthy amount of fat into your diet.
With a sizable amount of fat, Okpa is one perfect local dish that satisfies your cravings and also offers you the right nutrients.
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Other Health Impacts of Okpa
As you have read above, Okpa is quite beneficial to the human body. But as good as that may sound, some people worry about the negative side of Okpa in the body. That is if it has any side effects or can help tackle certain ailments. Let’s examine some of these frequently asked questions about the local Nigerian cake.
Can Okpa Help with Diabetes?
Whether Okpa is good for diabetes or not is one frequently asked questions, perhaps by those who suffer from the sickness and also crave for the diet. First off, you should understand that there is no cure for diabetes. With medication and lifestyle changes, however, diabetes can go into remission.
Your diet is part of your lifestyle that you can control. And this is where the traditional delicacy comes in. Bambara groundnut, which is the primary ingredient of Okpa is one of the foods that has a low glycemic index (54).
The glycemic index determines how the quantity of carbs in a food item affects blood glucose levels. Food with a low glycemic index such as Bambara nut can lead to a lower and slower rise in blood glucose, thereby helping insulin levels.
This will be helpful for type 1 and 2 diabetic patients who don’t produce enough insulin. Therefore, incorporating Okpa into a diet regimen may help manage diabetes.
Will Okpa Make Me Fat?
Most foods, even ones that pack fats won’t make you gain weight if eaten in moderation. Bambara nut contains unsaturated fat that is essential to the body.
However, because the local delicacy contains useful fat and other essential nutrients does not mean it should be consumed without proper consideration.
For instance, Okpa sold by those running “Okpa businesses” might be unhealthy. To make more profits, some sellers often add cornflour, coloring, and other “junk materials” that add little to no value to the body.
Consuming such preparation can lead to excess calories in your body, thereby leading to more weight.
Due to its high carbs content, regular intake of even a healthy dose of the delicacy might cause your body to accumulate more calories. Therefore, be sure to space out your Okpa intake and eat a varied diet and a balanced diet too.
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What to Eat with Okpa?
The local delicacy can be paired with pap, yogurt, hibiscus tea, and green tea. Taking the delicacy with pap is especially beneficial when trying to lose weight. Excess pap can also add to your calorie load. So take that in moderation too.
Also, the delicacy goes well with beverages. This is usually the case when Okpa is served as lunch. But when trying to cut back on your calorie intake, use cola sparingly to avoid excessive calorie buildup.
In terms of nutritional value, Okpa is an excellent source of protein and carbohydrates. The delicacy also provides a decent amount of other essential nutrients vital to the body.
When consumed moderately and paired with the right food, the local delicacy is healthy and nutritious.