What is Bamboo?
Bamboo is a plant native to Asia. A popular house plant and furniture material, it’s also rich in nutrients. Bamboo shoots are the edible part of many bamboo species and are most commonly used in many Asian-inspired dishes.
Bamboo is low in fat and high in protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals. While bamboo is popular in dishes in Asia, it’s still catching on as a cooking ingredient in the West. Some believe this is because bamboo is prevalent throughout Asia and easily accessible as a food source. Others feel that bamboo has a slightly pungent smell and a bitter taste that make it an acquired taste.
Even though bamboo has yet to gain traction in the West as a recipe ingredient, it’s growing in popularity in the nutrition world. Bamboo may benefit bone, joint, hair and nail health.
Benefits of Bamboo Extract
Promotes Healthy Bones and Hair
Bamboo extract is the richest known source of natural silica in the world. Silica (or silicon) is a naturally-occurring mineral found in many foods (primarily vegetables) and water sources. It may support bone growth and collagen production, which keeps your skin and hair healthy (x). Silica may also promote hair growth (x).
Bamboo shoots are rich in immune-boosting vitamins and minerals like iron and vitamin C (x). A natural antioxidant, vitamin C fights off free radical damage in your cells, which can lead to signs of aging and disease.
In fact, bamboo extract could increase the antioxidant concentration in your blood by up to 30 percent (x). It may also reduce chronic inflammation at the root of many diseases like heart disease and arthritis (x).
Bamboo extract contains plant compounds called phytosterols, which lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels, potentially reducing your risk of heart disease (x). Research suggests that 1.5 – 3 grams of phytosterols daily could lower LDL cholesterol levels by 8 to 15 percent in a month (x).
The dietary fiber in bamboo supports healthy digestion by relieving constipation and promoting regular bowel movements (x).It also contains cellulose, an organic compound that stimulates peristalsis–the muscular contractions in your intestines that help you digest food (x).
Additionally, diets rich in fiber ensure you feel fuller longer. This means that bamboo could help curb cravings that lead to weight gain (x).
Bamboo Extract Side Effects
As long as you stick to the recommended dosage, bamboo extract is safe to consume for healthy adults. However, you should talk to your doctor before taking bamboo if you are nursing or pregnant. Avoid bamboo if you have chronic thyroid issues; prolonged use of bamboo extract could worsen existing thyroid conditions.
Bamboo Extract Dosage
Bamboo has long played an important role in Eastern medicine. However, it didn’t make its way into Western culture until the 1960s. Today, you can find bamboo supplements sold as bamboo extracts in capsule and powder form.
Bamboo extract powder contains a high concentration of the plant’s beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and silica. If you opt for bamboo powder, take up to 600 mg (heaping 1/4 tsp) daily with plenty of water, or as directed by your physician.
The Bottom Line
Low in calories and high in antioxidants and vitamins, bamboo is a nutrient-rich plant that benefits overall wellness. It supports healthy bones, aids collagen production, promotes heart health, and boosts immunity. And with few side effects, bamboo does more than just accent your furniture: it could keep you healthy.*
By: Meghan Carney