What are bamboo shoots?
Bamboo belongs to the grass family and is easily grown in various zones. In India bamboo is also addressed as “green gold”as it has multipurposes, one of which is food. Bamboo shoots are used in many asian dishes as a vegetable. It can be used in dried, raw, pickled versions. Modern researches have shown many health benefits as it is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and many other important minerals. It is also a rich source of dietary fibre.
Types of bamboo shoots
There are 1575 species of bamboo shoot out of which 110 are edible. Let's see in brief about some most commonly used bamboo shoots.
Bambusa bamboo (b. bamboo) is the giant thorny bamboo, It is also known as Indian thorny bamboo. It grows in the tropical humid climate hence it is mostly found in the eastern part of Asia.The young shoot of this plant is eaten as the vegetable.The young shoots can be even used to treat nausea and indigestion.
Bambusa nutans (b. nutans) is a tropical plant found in the southern east part of Asia that grows up to 6-15 m tall. It is a graceful bamboo that can be used as an ornamental. The shoots of this species are cooked. It prefers to grow in the semi shaded or no shaded area. It requires a moist soil to grow. Its shoots adre good source of vitamin E, Which is resistant to heat. Therefore the nutrients can be retained even after cooking bamboo shoots.
Bambusa polymorpha (b. polymorpha) is a large dense clumping tropical bamboo which is mostly grown in Myanmar, Thailand and Bangladesh. The younger shoots are greenish brown in colour. The shoots are also known to eat but are mostly known for its bitter taste.
Bambusa tulda (b. tulda) also known as Indian timber bamboo or Bengal bamboo. It can grow in a neutral to very acidic soil. The young shoots are edible but taste bitter hence they are prefered in pickled form for eating. The shoots are harvested as soon as they emerge from the soil.
Bambusa vulgaris (b. vulgaris) is an open-clump type bamboo species. It is native to Indochina, but it has been widely cultivated in many other places.Young shoots of the plant are edible as cooked vegetables or pickled and eaten throughout Asia. Yellow shoots remain buttercup yellow after cooking. A decoction of the growing tips is mixed with Job's tears to make a refreshing drink in Mauritius.The shoots are tender and whitish pink, and have a fair canning quality.
Dendrocalamus asper (d. asper), also known as giant bamboo, or dragon bamboo.t is found commonly in India, Sri Lanka, southern part of China and southern east part of Asia and more recently in Latin America and warmer regions in the United States. Its young shoots are consumed as a vegetable. It is mostly cultivated for its shoots as it tastes sweet and delicious.
Dendrocalamus giganteus (d. giganteus) is the tallest of all bamboos. Giant bamboo occurs naturally in humid tropical highlands or hill slopes. It can be grown successfully in lowlands or alluvial soils, where humidity is high.Young shoots are blackish purple in colour and are edible when cooked. They are creamy and tender when cooked, though they are not widely consumed.
Dendrocalamus strictus (d. strictus) also known as male bamboo, solid bamboo or Calcutta bamboo. This bamboo is extensively used as a raw material in paper mills and has edible shoots. It is cultivated under dry conditions. It is commonly cultivated in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar , Thailand, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. The young shoots are mostly consumed due to its higher nutritive value.
Different bamboo shoots nutrition values
Nutrient content of freshly harvested shoots of some bamboo species
The health benefits of bamboo shoots are
Bamboo is low in calories, 100 gms of bamboo contains 27 calories. Therefore it can be used in weight loss.
Bamboo shoots benefits include that it has both soluble and insoluble fibre in it. Including bamboo shoot vegetables in diet can help to relieve constipation. Some studies have shown diet high in fibre can prevent colon cancer.
Optimize metabolic function
Bamboo shoots are rich in B complex vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, thiamin, riboflavin pantothenic acid which helps to regulate and optimize the metabolic function of the body.
Controls blood pressure
577 mg/100 gram potassium is present in the bamboo shoots. Which is 11% of the RDA. Potassium is an important component of body fluids which helps to control the blood pressure. It functions opposite to the sodium.
Bamboo shoots contain a good amount of phytochemicals which helps to prevent or reduce the risk of cancer.
Methods for cooking bamboo shoots
Make a thin slice of bamboo and add sea salt to it. This can be stored in a glass jar for almost a year as pickle. This bamboo shoot pickle can be added in fish curry to enhance the flavour. Bamboo shoot fry can be used in vegetables or red bamboo shoot and chicken gravy or simply in salads. You can just boil it and add to various bamboo recipes like dried bamboo salad, stewed bamboo with chicken, bamboo shoot vegetable, bamboo shoot curry and many more.
Try to include bamboo shoot at least twice a week so you can take all the good health benefits of bamboo shoot.