Should You Eat Okpa During Pregnancy?

Widespread in eastern Nigeria, okpa is a fan-favourite delicacy. It is well known as "Okpa" in Igbo, "Epa-Roro" in Yoruba, and "Kwaruru" or "Gurjiya" in Hausa. Okpa is a frequently eaten cuisine. Okpa is known as "Steamed Bambara Bean Pudding" in English. 


The Bambara bean, or the Bambara nut, is a grain legume or pulse essential for improving human health. It also contains significant amounts of vitamins and minerals.


Pregnant women are encouraged to eat meals with high nutritional qualities because pregnancy is a demanding physiological state on a woman's body. Foods like Okpa fit this category since they are high in iron, protein, calories, fibre, and other nutrients.


Nutrient Content of Okpa


Okpa, also known as Bambara groundnut or Vigna subterranea, is a nutritious legume that is rich in several vital nutrients, including:


  • Protein: With about 19 grams of protein per 100 grams of uncooked beans, okpa is a potent source of plant-based protein.
  • Fibre: Okpa is an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps support proper digestion and ward against constipation. In 100 grams of raw beans, it contains 11 grams of fibre.
  • Folate: Folate, a B vitamin crucial for fetal development and can help avoid birth abnormalities, is present in reasonable amounts in okpa. About 112 mcg of folate, or approximately 28% of the daily recommended dose for pregnant women, may be found in 100 grams of raw beans.
  • Iron: Okpa is an excellent source of iron, which is crucial for avoiding maternal anaemia and promoting fetal growth. About 1.5 milligrams of iron may be found in 100 grams of raw beans, roughly 8% of the daily allowance for pregnant women.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium, a mineral crucial for bone health and many other physiological processes, is in good amounts in okpa. 
  • Potassium: Potassium, essential for preserving healthy blood pressure and fluid balance in the body, is present in good amounts in okpa. About 563 mg of potassium, or approximately 12% of the daily allowance for pregnant women, may be found in 100 grams of raw beans, making them a good source of fibre.

Other significant minerals in okpa include calcium, zinc, and several vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Bambara beans are a filling and adaptable cuisine that may be used in many ways, such as stews, soups, and salads.


 Health Benefits of Okpa


The health benefits of okpa are based on its rich nutritional properties. Find them out below:

  1. Aid in lowering cholesterol levels.
  2. Aid in controlling blood sugar levels.
  3. Aid in weight control.
  4. It contains potential anti-inflammatory effects.
  5. It has potent antioxidant qualities.
  6. Possibility of anti-cancer effects
  7. Okpa is excellent for pregnant women because it contains nutrients crucial for a child's growth.
  8. Okpa is a nutritious food for young children.


Overall, Bambara beans are a wholesome and adaptable food that can be used in various dishes and may provide many potential health advantages. Consuming it in moderation and as part of a healthy diet is crucial, just like you should with any other food.


Is Okpa Safe for Pregnant Women?


Okpa is a good source of several essential nutrients, including protein, fibre, folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium, which are important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy.


Protein is vital for fetal growth and development, while fibre can help prevent constipation, a common problem during pregnancy. Folate is important for preventing congenital disabilities in the developing fetus, while iron prevents anaemia in the mother.


Okpa contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may offer health benefits for both the mother and the developing fetus. These are just a few reasons why pregnant women should consume okpa.


However, it is important to properly cook bambara beans to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Raw or undercooked beans can pose a bacterial infection risk, harming both the mother and the developing fetus.



Okpa can be a healthy and nutritious food to include in a well-balanced diet during pregnancy. Still, it is essential to be aware of potential risks and consume them in moderation.


As with any food during pregnancy, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider for personalised advice based on the individual's health status, nutritional needs, and any other factors that may be relevant to their pregnancy.



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