Bamboo shoots are a common ingredient in many Asian dishes.
They’re often enjoyed boiled or canned and boast a crisp texture and mild, earthy flavor.
Despite their popularity, you may be unsure whether this vegetable is healthy and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.
Grown throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas, bamboo refers to any one of about 1,450 species in the Poaceae family. Most varieties of bamboo are incredibly hardy, and grow well in both tropical and cold, mountainous climates. They’re among the fastest growing plants in the world, capable of growing up to 60 centimeters in a single day.
Today, bamboo is used in a variety of ways, from building houses to making paper. But while bamboo has been a nutritional staple in Asian countries for centuries, Western nations are just beginning to realize the potential of bamboo as a healthy, nutrient-packed food.
Bamboo shoots are highly nutritious and contain a good amount of fiber, copper, and vitamins B6 and E in each serving.
One cup (155 grams) of cooked bamboo shoots contains:
- Calories: 64
- Protein: 2.5 grams
- Fat: 4.5 grams
- Carbs: 5 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Copper: 19% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 9% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 3% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 3% of the DV
- Thiamine: 3% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 3% of the DV
- Potassium: 3% of the DV
- Iron: 3% of the DV
As you can see, they’re especially high in copper, a mineral important for your skin health, brain function, and more.
The shoots are also a great source of vitamin B6, a water-soluble vitamin involved in over 140 biochemical reactions within your body’s cells.
Plus, eating bamboo shoots boosts your intake of vitamin E, which acts as a powerful antioxidant that protects against inflammation and chronic disease.
Bamboo shoots are low in calories and rich in fiber, copper, and vitamin B6 and E.
With so many vitamins and minerals packed into these sturdy shoots, it comes as no surprise that there are a number of health benefits to bamboo.
Bamboo shoots have been associated with several potential health benefits.
Promotes gut health
Bamboo shoots are a great source of fiber, with 2 grams in each 1-cup (155-gram) serving.
Fiber can promote regularity and may even protect against issues like hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer.
According to test-tube research, bamboo shoots also act as a prebiotic, meaning that they provide fuel for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Research shows that your gut microbiome may play a central role in health and disease and could help prevent conditions like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Stimulates AppetiteFrom digestive disorders to pregnancy-related nausea, there are plenty of reasons you might want to increase your appetite. It’s not just the mildly sweet taste and crunchy texture of bamboo that gets your stomach rumbling though. The high concentrations of cellulose in bamboo have been shown to stimulate the appetite, prevent constipation, and improve digestion.
May reduce cholesterol levels
Some studies suggest that bamboo shoots could help reduce your cholesterol levels to improve heart health.
For instance, one test-tube study showed that fibers extracted from this vegetable had powerful cholesterol-lowering properties.
Plus, a small, older study from 2009 among 8 healthy women found that consuming 12.7 ounces (360 grams) of bamboo shoots significantly decreased levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol after 6 days, compared with those following a control diet.
This may be due to the soluble fiber found in bamboo shoots. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the gut and has been linked to decreased cholesterol levels.
Supports a Low-Carb DietLow-carbohydrate diets have been shown to help prevent or improve some medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Bamboo supports a low-carbohydrate diet by providing plenty of nutrients with very few carbohydrates. This can help people on low-carb diets get the vitamins and minerals they need.
May support weight loss
Some research suggests that bamboo shoots could help lower cholesterol levels, improve gut health, and increase weight loss.
Bamboo shoots are low in calories but high in fiber, making them a great addition to a healthy weight loss diet.
Fiber can help slow stomach emptying to help keep you feeling fuller for longer between meals.
According to a review of 62 studies, increasing fiber intake boosted weight loss and decreased belly fat, even without making any other diet modifications.
Emerging animal research also shows that these shoots could support gut health to benefit weight loss.
For example, one study found that feeding bamboo shoot fiber to mice on a high fat diet helped protect against weight gain by enhancing gut microbiome health.
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Other Health Benefits
- Bamboo shoots are one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 100 grams of fresh cane holds just only 27 calories.
- Bamboo heart composes of moderate levels of soluble and non-soluble (NSP- non-starch carbohydrates) dietary fiber. 100 g of fresh shoots provide 2.2 grams of roughage. Dietary fiber helps control constipation conditions, decreases bad (LDL) cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines.
- Studies suggest that a high-fiber diet can help cut down colon-rectal cancer risk by protecting digestive organs from the toxic compounds in the food.
- Bamboo hearts are also rich in the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid. These vitamins are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic, and metabolic functions.
- Bamboo is plentiful in minerals, especially manganese and copper. Also, it has small amounts of some essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Manganese is utilized by the human body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is employed in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for cellular respiration and red blood cell formation.
- Bamboo shoots compose excellent levels of potassium. 100 grams of fresh shoot holds 533 mg or 11% of daily required levels of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering the effects of sodium.
How to Prepare Bamboo
Many companies sell bamboo powder or pre-cooked bamboo to use in cooking. However, if you choose to buy fresh bamboo, it’s important to know how to prepare it.
Fresh bamboo contains toxins that are poisonous to humans, so bamboo shouldn’t be eaten raw. Instead, it needs to be cut and boiled in salted water before use. After you’ve boiled the bamboo shoots for at least 20 minutes, you can peel off the leaves and soak the tender inside part of the bamboo in water for 30 minutes. Now it’s ready to be used in your meal or stored in the fridge for up to one week.
Once you begin using bamboo in your meals, you’ll begin to understand its flavor and be able to work it into dishes you already know and love. Some delicious ways to start adding bamboo to your diet include:
- Stir-frying with meat and vegetables.
- Combining with pork and spices to fill dumplings.
- Chopping finely to use as an ingredient for hot and sour coleslaw.
Bamboo shoots are a popular ingredient in many types of Asian cuisine.
They’re rich in nutrients and may be associated with several health benefits, including increased weight loss, improved digestive health, and decreased cholesterol levels.
However, it’s important to cook them properly to reduce their amount of toxic compounds and enjoy them in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.