Panda Food for a Healthy Mood
A food fit not just for pandas…
Bamboo for a healthy heart, digestion and mood
Bamboo shoots are the newest stems of the bamboo plant and have been consumed in China and Japan as a food for thousands of years.
The health properties of bamboo shoots have been documented throughout traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years, with pharmaceutical texts from the Ming Dynasty reporting their use in enhancing the circulation and cardiovascular system.
Other ancient Chinese medicine texts reported their benefits to the digestive system, by promoting gut motility and aiding digestive function.
Modern research has recently confirmed the nutritional value of consuming shoots of various bamboo species.
Bamboo shoots have a rich nutritional profile, with a very high potassium content along with other minerals such as calcium, manganese, zinc, chromium, copper and iron, as well as phosphorous and selenium. Vitamin content includes thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.
Bamboo shoots are rich in protein and contain 17 amino acids, 8 of which are essential amino acids. They are very high in tyrosine, which accounts for 57-67 percent of the total amino acid content.
Bamboo shoots are also high in essential fatty acids, are low in calories, and high in dietary fiber.
Tyrosine is used by the body to produce certain adrenal stress hormones and neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the nervous system. Stress causes these hormones and neurotransmitters to decline. Tyrosine helps to reverse this decline, improving your mood and enhancing mental performance in times of stress.
Benefits of Fiber
Being a rich source of dietary fiber, bamboo shoots can help you to lower your LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol), enhance your digestive function, alleviate constipation, and help regulate your blood sugar levels. Fiber also helps to lower your risk of certain cancers, such as colon cancer.
Bamboo shoots contain selenium which is incorporated into proteins within your body to make selenoproteins, important antioxidants that help protect your cells from damage by free radicals.
Another group of antioxidants found in bamboo shoots are the tocopherols which prevent the oxidation of body lipids, such as the lipid components of your cells.
Bamboo shoots are rich in polyphenols which possess strong antioxidant activity that help to protect you against cancer and heart disease. Lignans are a type of these polyphenols which not only have anticancer properties, but also antifungal and antiviral actions.
Heart Health and Cholesterol Control
The high levels of potassium found in bamboo shoots helps your heart to maintain a regular heart beat and maintain normal blood pressure.
Another way in which bamboo shoots enhances your cardiovascular health is via their phytosterol constituents which play an important role in lowering your LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol).
A study published in 2009 in the journal Nutrition demonstrated that women who ate bamboo shoots for six consecutive days experienced an average reduction of 16.1 mg/dl of LDL levels in their blood. The control group of women who did not eat bamboo shoots experienced no reduction in LDL levels. The researchers concluded that the regular consumption of bamboo shoots can reduce and regulate cholesterol levels.
How do you eat it?
Bamboo shoots can be eaten fresh, fermented, salted, pickled or canned. You can add canned or fresh shoots to salads, curries or in stir-fries.
The fresh shoots are superior in taste and texture to the canned and fermented forms. Ensure you peel and boil the fresh shoots before serving. Bamboo shoots are available in Asian markets and grocery stores.
Fermented bamboo shoots have a strong taste which some find unpleasant, however they have an increased nutrient value with probiotics, or ‘good bacteria’ produced through the process of fermentation which help to keep your gut healthy and enhance your digestive function.
10 Reasons to start eating bamboo shoots
- Are rich in nutrients
- Are low in calories
- Are high in fiber
- Contain tyrosine which helps to enhance your mood
- Contain anti-cancer and antioxidant properties
- Improve your digestion, increase intestinal peristalsis and prevent constipation
- Regulate your blood pressure and heart beat
- Reduce your LDL cholesterol
- Provide anti-inflammatory effects
- Have antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties
For more information on the nutritional properties of bamboo shoots go to the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference