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According to a small study published in the March 2009 issue of the journal Nutrition, bamboo shoots may lower cholesterol levels and improve bowel health in women.
Bamboo is a plant native to Asia and its shoots (new bamboo stems that come out of the ground) are used in many Asian dishes. Bamboo can be grown in most climates and sliced shoots can be found in the grocery store in canned and fresh form.
US researchers from Washington State University and Korean researchers from Chonnam National University recruited 8 women with an average age of 22 for the study.
The women were randomly assigned to a dietary fiber-free diet (control), a diet containing 25 grams of cellulose, or a diet containing 360 grams of bamboo shoots. Every participant followed each of the three diets for a period of 6 days.
At the end of the study, the bamboo diet was associated with a 15.7 mg/dL reduction in total cholesterol compared to the control diet and an 11.8mg/dl reduction compared to the cellulose diet.
Moreover, after 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 researchers note that the high levels of fiber in bamboo are likely responsible for the improvements in bowel movements and cholesterol levels.
A high cholesterol level is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease claimed 864,480 lives in 2005 (35.3% of all deaths), making it the number one killer in America.
According to the American Heart Association, about 80 million Americans suffered from some form of heart disease in 2006.
Bamboo has also been found to provide other health benefits such as preventing high blood pressure, chronic constipation, and can even remedy internal poisoning.
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