Bamboo is a complete food for some animals and health food and medicine for humans. Bamboo, especially the shoots, has a long history of being used as food and medicine in Asian countries. Young shoots are consumed as fresh, dried and fermented forms in many countries. Juvenile shoots are not only delicious but have now been proven to be rich in nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, minerals vitamins and fibre and low in fats and sugars. Moreover, shoots are also a good source of health-enhancing bioactive compounds such as phenols, phytosterols and dietary fibres that can help in the prevention of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and much more. Various traditional practices of using bamboo for medication exists in several countries. Based on traditional knowledge, scientific studies have been carried out both in-vivo and in-vitro which authenticates the earlier reports of health-promoting properties of bamboo.
This chapter elucidates the nutrient richness of bamboo shoots, the traditional way of bamboo shoot consumption and recipes of different countries. The usage of bamboo in traditional medicinal systems is highlighted. Scientific documentation about the health benefits of bamboo with regard to cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and its anti-microbial, anti-fatigue and anti-inflammatory properties are discussed.