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Bamboo as a Source of Phytosterols

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Functional foods containing phytosterols are now available in the form of margarines, spreads, baked products, meat, soups and salad dressings. Present sources of phytosterols are limited being derived from vegetable oil and tall oil, a by-product of paper production from wood, and it is estimated that 2500 tons of these oils need to be refined to produce 1 ton of phytosterols. Techniques have been developed to incorporate plant sterols without affecting food.

Bamboo, being a fast growing plant, can be an important source of phytosterols. In the future, the addition of plant sterols to food could be an important public health policy if new technology and economies of scale could lower the cost and enable a greater demand. (Chongtham N., Bisht M. & Haorongbam S., 2011)

  • Bamboo Shoots as Alternative Food Substance

Pale, sturdy, mild in appearance yet distinct in flavor, bamboo shoot has been absorbed into traditional Indian cuisine quite naturally in areas where it is easily available. It is an often-used foodstuff, particularly in North Eastern India and the Western Ghats of Southern India.

Similar in geography, both these pockets house a considerable amount of natural bamboos. Plentiful rainfall makes the terrain ideal for bamboos to flourish. When food was scarce and access to foodstuff was minimal, people were forced to find edible alternatives in the surroundings, from the forests mainly; and bamboo shoot is one such ‘food from the forest’ that they soon began to relish. Hence began the use of bamboo shoot as food substance. (N.A., n.d., Report on Process, Market & Business Opportunity Report on Edible Bamboo Shoot s)

  • Bamboo Shoots as an Industry

The bamboo shoot-based industry is expanding rapidly in many Asian countries, mainly in China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Thailand, where bamboo farming for edible shoot production is well-established and has generated good income for the growers.

This could be advantageous in the preparation of products by the Food Development Industry since it could be used in dehydration soup formation, baked goods, formulation of baby food, snacks, breakfast products and so on. The possibility of using starchy staples for bread-making depends on the physical and chemical properties of the product. In this light, cocoyam, cassava, taro and other tuber crops have been found to be alternative sources of major raw materials for bread making. (Chongtham N., Bisht M. &Haorongbam S., 2011)

  • Products with Bamboo Fiber

Many companies use bamboo fiber in their products. Vitacel, a bamboo fiber product produced by J. Rettenmaier&Sohne, is used in fruit juices, beverages, spices, tablets, bakery goods, pasta, fragile products, batters, shredded cheese, sauces, mustard, and ketchup. CFF GmbH (Cellulose Fiber Fabric), based in Gehren, Germany, has developed a new type of fiber derived from the fiber-rich parts of bamboos. It consists of more than 90% water-insoluble fiber that cannot be broken down by the human digestive system. It bulks in the stomach, removes undesired metabolic by-products, and shortens intestinal transit time. InterFiber (Zhejiang, China), a Chinese company, is a producer and supplier of high quality, insoluble dietary fiber derived from natural plant sources such as wheat, bamboo and cellulose. (Chongtham N., Bisht M. &Haorongbam S., 2011)

  • Preparation of Bamboo Shoots

In the preparation of shoots for use, the sheaths and tough basal portions are removed, and the tender shoots are then sliced or cut lengthwise and boiled in water. The still crispy slices can be used in many dishes. Upon tasting, if the shoot is still bitter, it will be boiled again to remove the bitterness. Raw bamboo shoot is acrid, and boiling it removes the acridity. The bitterness is from cyanogenicglucosides, which when ingested, is poisonous because cyanide is released. Parboiling in water leaches the compound to render the shoots nontoxic. Green bamboo shoots and the winter shoots of P. edulisare not bitter becausethey are harvested before they emerge from the soil surface. Both shoots can be directly cooked with other foods without precooking. (Hui Y.H., 1991)

  • Nutritive Values of Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo shoot is rich in vitamins, cellulose, amino acids and trace elements and is a good source of fiber. Bamboo shoot comprises 90% water. The edible content of a newly harvested shoot is usually 25 to 30 per cent, with a smaller shoot yielding a lower percentage edible content. Fresh bamboo shoot has a crisp and sweet flavor. The bamboo shoot can be consumed fresh or processed. It is used in oriental cooking as an extender because it takes on the flavor of the ingredients it is cooked with.

It is reported that bamboo shoot has some effects in cancer prevention and is very popular in the Southeast Asian countries. It is also used to increase the appetite and decrease blood pressure and cholesterol. As a widely consumed vegetable, bamboo shoot can be labeled as a heart protective vegetable and its component phytosterols may be suitable as nutraceuticals. (N.A., n.d., Report on Process, Market & Business Opportunity Report on Edible Bamboo Shoot s)

Dietary Fiber

  • Plants Containing Dietary Fiber

Because it arises from the walls of plant cells, dietary fiber is found in all natural foods obtained from plants: whole grains; leafy vegetables; legumes; fruits; and, nuts. The dietary fiber content of foods depends on the analytical method used.

Many foods and beverages are fortified with dietary fiber. Most commonly, fiber is added to cereals and bakery products. (HuiY.H., 1991)

  • Physiological Effects of Dietary Fiber

At this time, many of the claimed benefits of dietary fiber have not been conclusively demonstrated. Although the data are inconclusive and being debated, the interest in foods with a high content of fiber and in fiber-enriched products arises from the evidence that dietary fiber reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, reduces the risk of colon cancer and diverticulitis, and improves glucose tolerance and insulin response. However, different kinds of fiber effect different physiological responses, and certain fiber source are more effective than others in bringing about each of these effects.

The primary effect of dietary fiber is on improving bowel function. In general, dietary fiber holds water and thickens aqueous systems, swells, and provides bulk volume, and is an adsorbent. It provides a matrix and a surface for bacterial growth and thereby increases bacterial mass. Dietary fiber produces absorbable metabolites, has cation-exchange properties in some cases, and hasbeneficial physiological effects. (HuiY.H., 1991)

  • Dietary Fiber in Foods

Dietary fiber in the form of food gums is incorporated in small amounts in a wide variety of food products. A number of liquid and moist foods, bakery products, breakfast cereals, and snack foods are enriched with fiber because of the ability of all polysaccharides to bind water and the extra ability of insoluble fiber to hold water in interstitial spaces by capillary action. Because of its water-holding capacity, fiber is also used to prepare reduced-caloric products. The presence of fiber aids the process of extrusion. Specific products to which fiber may be added in substantial amounts are

breads, muffins, hot and cold cereals, extruded snacks, fruit rolls, granola bars, dietetic items, fiber drinks, pasta and processed meats. Oatmeal has high natural fiber content. (HuiY.H., 1991)

Local Literature

Bamboo Shoots

  • Bamboo Shoots in the Philippines

The young shoot or labong is used as a vegetable in fresh, pickled or dried form. Locally sourced bamboo shoot is usually consumed fresh as there is no factory in the Philippinesengaged in canning or drying purposes. The bamboo shoots most commonly available in the local market come from kawayantinik, giant bamboo, and botong. There are, however, eight other species that grow in the Philippines including both native and recently introduced that can be used in labong production. Without treatment, labong lasts only for a day but shelf life could be extended to 2-7 days when soaked in water changed daily. (Delariarte, R. L., 1978)

  • Distribution of Bamboo Shoots

From the farm where it is harvested, it goes to the retailer usually based in public markets where it is sold to consumers or institutional buyers like restaurants and hotels which carry food menus with labong as ingredient. In some cases, it is sold directly to consumers or used for home consumption. Canned or pickled bamboo shoot imported from abroad also find their way to distribution outlets including retailers in public markets, grocery stores and supermarkets. (Delariarte, R. L., 1978)

Summary

Phytosterol sources nowadays are very limited, so techniques have been developed to synthesize those oils which are also suitable as nutraceuticals. Bamboo shoots contain phytosterols which could be important to our healthy lifestyle. They are also rich in vitamins, cellulose, amino acids, fiber and trace elements. They can also prevent cancer, increase appetite, and decrease blood pressure and cholesterol. As a result, many bamboo shoot-based industries are expanding rapidly in many Asian countries, including the Philippines. In fact, several companies have already utilized bamboo fiber in their products like Vitacel, CFF GmbH in Germany, and InterFiber in China. In the Philippines, labong is a vegetable that is usually consumed fresh and conventionally comes from kawayantinik, giant bamboo, and botong. However, there are eight species of labong discovered that are useful in producing labong. In the absence of any treatment, labong could last for a day but could be extended to 2-7 days if it is soaked in water changed daily. It is widely known that bamboo shoots are bitter. Boiling cyanogenicglucosidesrender the shoots non-toxic. In preparing the shoots, sheaths and tough basal portions are removed and then cut lengthwise and then boiled in water. If the bitterness is not removed, the boiling process needs to be repeated. The bitterness comes from the cyanogenicglucosides that release cyanide when taken by a person.

Dietary fiber can be found in all natural foods attained from plants since it crops up from the walls of plant cells. Most of the foods and beverages contain dietary fiber. It is commonly added to cereals and bakery products.

Even though a lot of the proclaimed benefits of dietary fiber are not yet proven, many are still interested in foods that have high fiber content and in fiber-enriched goods because of the evidence that dietary fiber reduces risks of coronary heart disease, colon cancer and diverticulitis. On top of that, it improves glucose tolerance and insulin response. However, the kind of fiber affects its physiological effect. For example, a certain source of fiber is more effective in bringing out one particular physiological effect than another source. Dietary fiber’s main effect is improving bowel function.

Most of the liquid and moist foods, bakery products, breakfast cereals, and snack foods are fiber-enriched because polysaccharides bind water and insoluble fiber holds water in interstitial spaces by capillary action. Because it is able to hold water, fiber is also used to prepare reduced-caloric products. Fiber helps in the process of extrusion. The product depends on its ingredient as well as the fiber value and its fiber.


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