Nutritional Properties of Bamboo Shoots: Potential and Prospects for Utilization as a Health Food
Bamboo is intricately associated with humans from times immemorial. Popularly known for their industrial uses, a lesser known fact of bamboos is the usage of its young shoots as a food that can be consumed fresh, fermented, or canned. The juvenile shoots are not only delicious but are rich in nutrient components, mainly proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and fiber and are low in fat and sugars. In addition, they contain phytosterols and a high amount of fiber that can be labeled as nutraceuticals or natural medicines that are attracting the attention of health advocates and scientists alike. The shoots are free from residual toxicity and grow without the application of fertilizers. Modern research has revealed that bamboo shoots have a number of health benefits: improving appetite and digestion, weight loss, and curing cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The shoots are reported to have anticancer, antibacterial, and antiviral activity. Shoots have antioxidant capacity due to the presence of phenolic compounds. The increasing trends of health consciousness among consumers have stimulated the field of functional foods and bamboo shoots can be one of them. Bamboo fiber is now a common ingredient in breakfast cereals, fruit juices, bakery and meat products, sauces, shredded cheeses, cookies, pastas, snacks, frozen desserts, and many other food products. This review emphasizes the health benefits of bamboo shoots and their potential for utilization as a health food.