Bamboo shoots possess a protein content that’s ‘similar to cow’s milk’, according to new research. 

Conducted by researchers from the China National Bamboo Research Centre, the study claims that bamboo shoots are rich in seven essential amino acids, carbohydrates (mainly fibers), iron, and vitamins while low in fat, making them a valuable source of nutrition.

To demonstrate how bamboo plants can be a possible alternative to conventional foods, the researchers found that bamboo stands out as one of the fastest-growing and most ancient plant species on Earth. 

The researchers note that there are over 1,640 species of bamboo worldwide, but not all have edible shoots – China is the leading bamboo producer with 800 species, though only 153 are edible.

Bamboo shoots possess a protein content that’s ‘similar to cow’s milk’, according to new research.
Image credit: pelican. Credit: pelican

The authors argue that despite their popularity along with a variety of applications, bamboo shoots are still an underutilized ingredient. They note how over the last decade bamboo shoots have been used to produce functional ingredients, including dietary fibers, polysaccharides, proteins, and antioxidant extracts derived to fortify the nutrition of multiple products.

The study states that while there is potential for bamboo shoot-based functional foods to address future food security needs, scaling up production remains a major challenge. What’s more, issues such as toxicity and sensory aspects along with the significant amount of inedible plant material waste generated from using only the shoots still need to be overcome.

However, the authors still conclude that bamboo shoots still have the potential to “…become a mainstream food worldwide and contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

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