Can you eat bamboo shoots raw?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can you eat bamboo shoots raw?” and will discuss why raw bamboo shoots are dangerous.

Can you eat bamboo shoots raw?

No, you cannot eat raw bamboo shoots. Not only are raw bamboo shoots bitter and difficult to digest, but also contain significant levels of poisonous cyanogenic glycosides, which may induce acute intoxication and various long-term health problems if eaten correctly.

What are bamboo shoots?

This isn’t the whole bamboo plant, of course. It is the young bamboo shoots that emerge from the soil that is known as bamboo shoots. Before they’ve reached the age of two weeks, the young canes are harvested.

Their height is usually no more than one foot because they are young bamboo. They have the softness and crispiness of asparagus, yet taste like corn. Eaten young, bamboo shoots are more difficult to chew than older ones.

In East and Southeast Asia, bamboo shoots are a popular vegetable dish. However, not all bamboo shoots are suitable for consumption. When it comes to bamboo, Guada Bamboo estimates that there are 1575 different varieties globally, but only 110 are edible. In addition to fresh and dried bamboo shoots, supermarkets sell commercially canned bamboo shoots.

Are bamboo shoots toxic while they’re still raw?

Your thoughts may be the same as mine when it comes to bamboo shoots consumption: “How can bamboo shoots be toxic if I’ve been eating them for years without any problems?” Yes, the bamboo shoots you and I have been eating for years are harmless and even healthy.

However, the bamboo shoots we’ve consumed have already been processed, meaning they were either cooked, boiled, canned, dried, or fermented before being consumed. They may be deadly if eaten raw because they contain high levels of harmful compounds known as cyanide glycosides.

According to Washington State University’s Vegetable Research and Extension, uncooked bamboo shoots are bitter and difficult to digest and should not be consumed.

Cyanogenic glycoside 

Toxic compounds called phytotoxins, such as cyanogenic glycosides, occur naturally in certain plants as a defensive mechanism, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). They are found in at least two thousand (2000) species, including bitter apricot seeds and cassavas, surprising, to say the least.

Cyanogenic glycosides are found in a wide variety of plants. Bamboo stalks contain a compound called taxiphyllin, a kind of cyanogenic glycoside. Bamboo shoots have the most cyanide at the tips, followed by the center and the base, with the latter containing the least. Hydrogen cyanide is produced when the poisons in food are digested, chewed, or processed in some way like grinding.

Is it possible to die from cyanide ingestion?

Even though hydrogen cyanide is safe in tiny doses, excessive doses may be lethal because of the poisonous effects on the body (eaten in large amounts). Acute cyanide poisoning, including symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fast breathing, low blood pressure, and disorientation, may occur. A fatal coma is also a possibility.

Even worse, acute cyanide poisoning may be the root of other chronic diseases. Isn’t it horrifying? That being said, let’s get down to the meat of the matter at hand: “Can cyanide poisoning kill you?”

According to a Fox News report, if you don’t boil bamboo shoots properly, they may be lethal.

What percentage of what you’ve read is accurate? According to WHO specialists, cyanide poisoning may cause death if the cyanide level is too high and the body’s detoxifying capacity is exceeded in the patient.

To put it another way, our bodies can only handle so much cyanide before it becomes toxic. Toxin poisoning and death may result from eating too many cyanogenic plants since our body’s detoxification system becomes ineffective when we consume more than the recommended quantity of cyanogenic plants.

Overall, consuming too much cyanide-containing plant material or cyanide-rich food is harmful to your health and may lead to acute cyanide intoxication (acute cyanide poisoning). Now for some good news: These edible plants can be made safe to consume by lowering their cyanide content. So long as you consume them in a safe concentration (below the hazardous threshold), your body will not be harmed.

Cyanogenic glycoside-containing plants and foods

The other plants and edible components that contain cyanogenic glycosides should also be avoided in addition to bamboo shoots.

Let’s have a look at some examples.

·         Almonds

·         Apples

·         Flaxseed

·         Apricots

·         Cocoyam

·         Cherries

·         Cassava

·         Chickpeas

·         Cashew

·         Kirsch

·         Lima beans

·         Stone fruit

·         Plums

·         Pome fruit

·         Peaches

·         Quinces

·         Sorghum

The seeds of the fruits listed above, in particular, have a high cyanide concentration.

Other foods that may contain cyanogenic glycosides and therefore provide a hydrogen cyanide danger include the following:

·          An ingredient used to enhance the taste of food that may include: Ground almonds, marzipan, or stone fruits.

·         Beverages containing alcohol that are made from stone fruits


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can you eat bamboo shoots raw?” and discussed why raw bamboo shoots are dangerous.