by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Bamboo is a versatile plant that grows throughout Asia and Africa, among other areas around the globe. With over 1,450 different species, bamboo is among the fastest-growing plants in the world, capable of growing up to 60 centimeters in a single day. While bamboo has been used for building and paper-making, its potential as a nutrient-rich food is just beginning to be realized in the West. Bamboo shoots are a traditional ingredient in Asian cuisine, packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
As a low-calorie and eco-friendly option, bamboo shoots offer a delicious and healthy addition to your meals.
In this article, we will dive deeper into the many health benefits associated with adding bamboo shoots to your nutrition plan. It may sound odd, but these beauties are fantastic.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your current nutrition plan.
What Are Bamboo Shoots?
Bamboo shoots are the young and tender sprouts that emerge from the soil near the base of bamboo plants. These sprouts, which belong to the Bambusoideae subfamily of the grass family, are not only edible but also highly nutritious.
According to research by Northern Illinois University, bamboo shoots are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They can be found fresh or fermented and are used in various cuisines worldwide.
The bamboo species that produce edible shoots include Phyllostachys edulis, winter shoots, “hairy” shoots, Phyllostachys bambusoides, Dendrocalamus lactiferous, Bambusa vulgaris, Bambusa oldhamii, and Bambusa odashimae.
Whether you enjoy them in stir-fries, soups, salads, or as a snack, bamboo shoots are a flavorful and healthy addition to your diet.
Bamboo Shoots Nutritional Facts
Bamboo shoots are very nutritious and have a good amount of fiber, vitamins B6 and E, and copper in each serving.
One cup (155g) of cooked bamboo shoots contains:
- Calories: 64
- Fat: 4.5g
- Protein: 2.5g
- Carbs: 5g
- Fiber: 2g
- 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
- Thiamine: 3% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 3% of the DV
- Potassium: 3% of the DV
- Iron: 3% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 3% of the DV
The Health Benefits of Bamboo Shoots
Bamboo shoots are a popular and exotic food in Asia that is gaining popularity in other regions. These shoots are highly valued for their numerous health benefits, which include the following:
1. It may reduce cholesterol levels
Bamboo shoots have been found to have potential benefits for heart health. Research suggests that the fibers extracted from bamboo shoots may have cholesterol-lowering effects.
A small study of eight healthy women found that consuming 12.7 ounces (360 grams) of bamboo shoots for six days significantly decreased total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels compared to those on a control diet. These findings highlight the potential of bamboo shoots as a dietary addition for those looking to improve their heart health.
2. It may help in weight loss
Obesity and being overweight have become major global health concerns over the past few decades (especially here in the US, where over 70% of American adults are overweight and over 40% are classified as obese), prompting the need for effective treatment methods.
Recent research suggests that bamboo shoots may offer a potential solution. A study published in Scientific Reports found that bamboo shoots could be highly effective in reducing obesity caused by a high-fat diet. Furthermore, the study suggests that bamboo shoot fiber may have the potential to prevent obesity and metabolic syndrome. These promising findings highlight the possible role of bamboo shoots in promoting weight loss and preventing obesity-related health conditions.
3. It may boost gut health
The dietary fiber found in bamboo shoots can stimulate the growth of gut-friendly bacteria, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, by providing them with short-chain fatty acids. This promotes their growth and helps maintain gut health, ultimately improving digestion.
4. It may promote the immune system
Bamboo shoots are a rich source of vitamins and minerals that can help support the immune system. In addition, the antioxidants found in bamboo shoots may play a role in strengthening the body from the inside out, potentially even helping to delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
Circling back to the ability of bamboo shoots to boost the gut microbiome, a large portion of your immune system stems from your gut microbiome, which helps protect the body from foreign pathogens that can cause illness and disease.
5. It may help reduce cholesterol levels
Bamboo shoots are a rich source of soluble fiber, which has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber in bamboo shoots binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream and potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
6. May delay fatigue
Studies have shown that bamboo shoots contain biochemical compounds such as triterpenoids and flavonoids, which have been found to have an anti-fatigue effect. In fact, a study conducted on mice found that fresh bamboo shoot extracts containing these compounds could help prolong endurance and delay fatigue.