Bamboo shoots: nutrition, uses and preparation

Did you know that bamboo shoots can be eaten? We are going to tell you about its nutritional properties and the most common forms of consumption.

Last update: September 20, 2021

You may not have heard of them, but bamboo shoots are edible and highly nutritious. It is a plant native to India, although it is also cultivated in South America and in some parts of southern Africa. Its function is to provide wood to generate decorative elements, but it can also be consumed.

In any case, it should be noted that it is not common to find this food in most European supermarkets. It is usually necessary to go to specialized stores. Even in traditional medicine centers you can find concentrates of the sprouts of the plant.

Nutritional value of bamboo shoots

Usually bamboo shoots they are very low-energy foods. They only provide 27 calories per 100 grams of product, so they can be included in almost any type of diet; also in those that aim to reduce body weight.

Most of the energy comes from carbohydrates, since it has 5 grams of these nutrients for every 100 of product. Of course, they are all complex. It does not have simple sugars. This, added to its significant concentration in fiber, causes optimal glycemic control.

The protein part is scarce. Provides 2.6 grams of low biological value nutrients. This means that it does not have all the essential amino acids and that it does not have a good score in terms of digestibility. Fats are also not significant.

From the point of view of micronutrients, special mention must be made of phosphorus and potassium. Both minerals are decisive in the functioning of many physiological reactions that take place daily inside the body. If a deficit is experienced, chronic pathologies can develop.

As far as vitamins are concerned, it is necessary to highlight the concentration of vitamins E, K and some of group B. All of them are necessary to ensure that a good state of health is maintained.

Properties of bamboo shoots

Now that you know the nutritional value of bamboo shoots, the time has come to tell you about its properties. Definitely, it is a vegetable that can provide health benefits, as long as it is introduced in the context of a balanced and varied diet.

They help prevent constipation

The fiber content of bamboo shoots it is important to prevent digestive problems, such as constipation. This is evidenced by an investigation published in the journal Nature Reviews. This substance is capable of increasing the volume of the stool bolus.

On the other hand, it should be noted that fiber is a fundamental element to achieve a good density in terms of bacteria that inhabit the intestine. It is the energy substrate for these microorganisms.

Reduce blood pressure

Bamboo shoots are characterized by the presence of potassium. This mineral is able to counteract the effects of sodium as far as blood pressure management is concerned. It exerts a hypotensive action, according to a study published in the journal Journal of Clinical Hypertension.

In this way, it is possible to reduce cardiovascular risk. The increase in blood pressure is a condition that increases the incidence of pathologies associated with the heart.

Potassium is a mineral that counteracts the effect of sodium, present in salt. In this way, it protects cardiovascular health.

They work as an antioxidant

In addition to the micronutrients mentioned, bamboo shoots can provide phytonutrients, substances of plant origin with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Many of them neutralize the formation of free radicals and its subsequent accumulation in the body's tissues.

With this effect, the signs of aging are delayed, as well as many other pathologies associated with age, as stated in a study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging. An increase in the production of reactive oxygen species could generate inefficiencies in the functioning of the organs.

Contraindications of bamboo shoots

Although most people can benefit from including bamboo shoots in their diet, these vegetables have a number of contraindications. For example, they should not be introduced into the regimen of a person with intestinal dysbiosis. The presence of fiber could promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

Also, it should be noted that some people may be allergic to these foods. For this reason, it is necessary to verify that the consumption of the vegetable does not generate autoimmune reactions. As a general rule, it is recommended to avoid its intake during pregnancy.

In addition, it is usually advisable to ask the specialist if bamboo shoots can be included in the diet if you are under any drug treatment. Sometimes, medications interact with certain phytonutrients or compounds found in plants, which can increase or decrease its effects.

How are bamboo shoots eaten?

Bamboo shoots can be found in many different ways of preparation. It is advisable to peel them before consuming themas the exterior has a hard texture that may not be pleasant during chewing.

They are usually bought fresh, dried or canned. They can be included in multiple culinary preparations, such as stir-fries, soups, vegetable creams or salads.

They are usually cooked prior to eating. The best thing is to subject them to a cooking process with water, although later they can also be sautéed to achieve a more intense flavor. They can even be pickled or in sauce.

To some extent, they bear a resemblance to green asparagus when it comes to including them in culinary preparations. In fact, in Asian cuisine they are very common. There are up to 1,500 different species of bamboo.

Preparation method

When raw bamboo shoots are acquired, a series of processes must be put in place to ensure that they can be consumed without generating side effects. The first thing to do is peel the outer pods and detoxify the meat to eliminate all the bitter compounds it contains.

The easiest method is to cut lengthwise, in two halves. From here the outer leaves are removed, as well as any hard area of ​​the base. Sprouts are cut to the desired size and placed in a container with cold water to avoid browning.

This dipping process allows the sprouts to be detoxified, as they may contain traces of taxifyllin, a glycoside that must be removed prior to cooking. Keeping them for 20 minutes in cold water reduces the presence of this substance. Once the time has passed, the liquid is discarded and they can be boiled.

However, heating the bamboo by means of a cooking method also ensures the destruction of taxifyllin, thus there are no health risks from eating these cooked vegetables. What you should not do is eat them raw.

Bamboo shoots must be peeled and cooked to remove toxins.

Include bamboo shoots in the diet

Bamboo shoots are beneficial health foods. It can be difficult to get them in many countries in Europe, but they are tasty and very versatile products at the culinary level. Perhaps the easiest option is to buy it canned in specialized stores.

If you have the opportunity, we recommend that you include these vegetables in your diet on a regular basis. They will increase the nutritional density of many dishes, providing essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, they hardly modify the energy value of the preparations, so you will not run the risk of gaining weight.