Bamboo plants have existed for centuries and are known to be one of the fastest growing plants in the world. However, the biggest question is; can humans eat bamboo? According to science experts, bamboo is perfectly safe to eat. The shoots of most bamboo species are edible. In fact, they are used in numerous Asian cuisines. They are slowly growing in demand from western countries. However, just like cassava, the shoots contain taxiphyllin and cyanide toxins.
The toxins can be destroyed by boiling them before use. On the other hand, the shoots may require long soaking and separate cooking before they are included in any recipe. It’s estimated that every 3 years, new shoots arise from the root system and can be eaten as a vegetable. If you are still asking yourself; can humans eat bamboo? Let’s have an in-depth look on the edible part of the plant;
Selecting the shoots
Bamboo shoots are a seasonal delicacy. In most supermarkets canned or packed bamboo shoots are available throughout the year. However, when buying fresh shoots, it’s recommended that you select those that have been harvested recently.
Avoid soft dry roots. Likewise, look at the base of the shoot and check whether it has turned green. Green color is an indication that the shoot has been exposed to the sun for long time. It’s likely to have a bitter taste. The excellent substitutes for fresh shoots are those canned in water. They are readily prepared and safe to eat.
Before you add the shoots in your cooking, they should be processed further. First, you need to peel the tough sheaths. Peel the outer leaves starting from the base towards the tip then cut the shoot into halves then cut into the desired sizes.
Secondly, detoxify by dipping them in boiling water .The boiling water should be salted and uncovered. Boiling should be done for about 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the water then boil for another 5 to 10 minutes to ensure they are completely safe.
Nutritional value of bamboo shoots
According to scientific research, bamboo shoots are rich in nutrients. But, can humans eat bamboo? It’s estimated that 100 gram of bamboo shoots contains 0.26 gm fat, 1.2 gm dietary fiber, 1.84 gm protein and 20 calories. The shoots contain both saturated and unsaturated fats. They are also rich in carbohydrates, potassium, sugar and minerals.
Health benefits of bamboo shoots
· Helps to maintain the right cholesterol levels
The shoots have low amount of fat, hence the intake of bamboo shoots helps in balancing cholesterol and glucose levels in the body.
· Helps to maintain a healthy heart
The shoots contain phytonutrients and phytosterols which help in eliminating harmful cholesterol from the body. This eases cholesterol out of arteries to get a smooth blood flow.
· Strengthens the immune system
Bamboo shoots contain vitamins, antioxidants and minerals essential for strengthening the body in and out. This reduces the risk of contracting chronic diseases.
· Prevents cancer
The shoots contain flavones, amylase, phytosterols and chlorophyll which help to avert the risk of colon cancer and mutations.
· Helps to treat stomach disorders
Bamboo shoots contain high fibre content which aids in the digestion process. They help in improving the overall bowel movements.
For those who have been constantly asking themselves; can humans eat bamboo? Now they have an answer. Bamboo shoots are safe to eat for those looking for a healthier diet plan. However, the stems and leaves are not edible to humans.