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Are Bamboo Shoots Good for Our Health? All We Need to Know

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.


This article takes a closer look at the research to determine whether bamboo shoots are good for you.



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What Are Bamboo Shoots?


Bamboo shoots are the edible shoots of bamboo plants that are featured in many types of Asian cuisine.


It’s estimated that there are up to 1,500 species of bamboo worldwide. Certain species like Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis are among the most common types used in cooking (1)


The shoots are typically peeled before consumption, as the exterior has a woody, thick texture that can be difficult to chew.


They can be found in many forms, including dried, fresh, or canned. Before adding them to recipes like stir-fries, curries, soups, and salads, they’re typically boiled, soaked, cooked, or pickled.


SUMMARY

Bamboo shoots are the edible shoots of bamboo plants, usually boiled, soaked, cooked, or pickled and enjoyed in a variety of dishes.


Nutrition


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 (2):


· 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 (3, 4).


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 (5).


Plus, eating bamboo shoots boosts your intake of vitamin E, which acts as a powerful antioxidant that protects against inflammation and chronic disease (6).


SUMMARY

Bamboo shoots are low in calories and rich in fiber, copper, and vitamin B6 and E.


Benefits


Bamboo shoots have been associated with several potential health benefits.



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 (7).


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 (8).


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 (9).



Promotes Gut Health


Bamboo shoots are a great source of fiber, with 2 grams in each 1-cup (155-gram) serving (2).


Fiber can promote regularity and may even protect against issues like hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer (10).


According to test-tube research, bamboo shoots also act as a prebiotic, meaning that they provide fuel for the beneficial bacteria in your gut (11, 12).


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 (13, 14).



May Support Weight Loss


Bamboo shoots are low in calories but high in fiber, making them a great addition to a healthy weight loss diet (2).


Fiber can help slow stomach emptying to help keep you feeling fuller for longer between meals (10).


According to a review of 62 studies, increasing fiber intake boosted weight loss and decreased belly fat, even without making any other diet modifications (15).


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 (16).


That said, more studies are needed to confirm its potential benefits for humans.


SUMMARY

Some research suggests that bamboo shoots could help lower cholesterol levels, improve gut health, and increase weight loss.


Downsides


Fresh bamboo shoots contain toxic amounts of the cyanide taxiphyllin. However, different processing methods greatly reduce their taxiphyllin content, making them generally safe for consumption (17).


To reduce the amount of taxiphyllin, the shoots must be boiled or soaked and dried prior to consumption (18).


Bamboo shoots are also considered goitrogenic, meaning that they may affect your thyroid gland function (19).


In one test-tube study, certain compounds extracted from bamboo shoots decreased the activity of the thyroid gland cells responsible for producing thyroid hormones (20).


Fortunately, getting enough iodine and selenium in your diet can help prevent thyroid dysfunction (21, 22).


Cooking foods can also deactivate certain enzymes and decrease how many goitrogens remain (23).


Therefore, you can safely enjoy cooked bamboo shoots in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet, even if you have impaired thyroid function.


SUMMARY

Bamboo shoots contain toxic cyanide compounds and are considered goitrogenic. Fortunately, cooking them first allows you to enjoy them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.


How To Cook


Fresh bamboo shoots are versatile and easy to prepare.


To get started, peel them and remove the fibrous outer layers.


Next, add them to salted, boiling water and cook them for at least 20–30 minutes or up to 2 hours at medium-low heat. This helps remove the bitter taste and softens the texture.


You can use a skewer or toothpick to check whether they’re ready. Ideally, the skewer should go through without resistance. If the shoots are ready, remove them from the water and let them cool. You can then slice them and add them to your favorite recipes.


SUMMARY

Bamboo shoots are easy to prepare. Simply peel, boil, slice, and add them to your favorite recipes.


The Bottom Line


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.



Important Notice: This article was originally published at www.healthline.com by Rachael Link, MS, RD where all credits are due. Medically reviewed by Sade Meeks, MS, RD.

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