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Do the panda: Bamboo shoots may boost female bowel health

By Stephen Daniells , 16-Apr-2009

Fibre-rich bamboo shoots may improve cholesterol levels and improve bowel health, according to results of a small study from the US and Korea.

Supplementing the diet with bamboo shoots was associated with reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels amongst 8 young women, suggests data published in the journal Nutrition.

Furthermore, the women’s faecal volume and the number of bowel movements increased significantly after six days of receiving the bamboo shoots.

“We believe that decreased dietary fibre consumption is related to the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases and dietary fibre intake plays an important role in preventing or delaying the onset of chronic diseases,” wrote Eun-Jin Park from Washington State University and Deok-Young Jhon from Chonnam National University in Korea.

“The data of the present study confirmed the beneficial effects of consuming a high-fibre diet containing bamboo shoots in lowering cholesterol levels and improving bowel functions in healthy young women,” they added.

“Therefore, these results suggested that consumption of bamboo shoots, which contained high levels of dietary fibre, might be increased to help prevent chronic diseases.”

Ins and outs of bamboo

Fibre intake has been shown to benefit gastrointestinal health, glucose handling, heart health, cancer risk and satiety, but these benefits are dependent on the types of fibre present in foods.

According to Park and Jhon, eight per cent of the fibre content of bamboo shoots is soluble, with the other 92 per cent present as insoluble fibre. Most of the dietary fibre in the shoots is hemicellulose, cellulose, pectin, and lignin, they said.

Study details

Park and Jhon recruited eight women with an average age of 22 and an average BMI of 20.2 kg/m2, and randomly assigned them to receive a dietary fibre-free diet (control), a diet containing 25 grams of cellulose, or a diet containing 360 g of bamboo shoots. Each dietary intervention lasted six days and the women underwent each segment.

At the end of the study, the bamboo shoot rich diet was associated with a 15.7 and 11.8 mg/dL reduction in total cholesterol levels, compared to the control and cellulose diets, respectively.

Moreover, LDL cholesterol was reduced by 16.1 mg/dL following the bamboo shoot diet compared to the control diet, but there were no differences between the bamboo group and the cellulose group.

HDL cholesterol levels were unchanged by the bamboo diet, but increased by 7.2 mg/dL following consumption of the cellulose diet.

Following the bamboo shoot diet, the average number of bowel movements was 6.2 per day, compared to 4.3 and 5.6 in the control and cellulose groups, respectively.

“The present study concluded that an increased intake of dietary fiber, not just an increase in the intake of bamboo shoots, is good for health,” wrote Park and Jhon.

High cholesterol levels, or hypercholesterolaemia, are a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year.

According to the American Heart Association, 34.2 per cent of Americans (70.1m people) suffered from some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2002.

Source: Nutrition Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2009.01.007“Effects of bamboo shoot consumption on lipid profiles and bowel function in healthy young women” Authors: Eun-Jin Park, Deok-Young Jhon

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