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When you think of beans, mung (moong) may not be the 1st thing to pop in your mind. Although relatively unheard of in the US, they have been in use in India, China and other Asian countries since ages!

If you are looking for incorporating more beans into your diet, but are tired of the existing options, here is a great alternative!

What are mung beans?

Mung beans belong to the genus Vigna and are also known as green gram. They are a species of plants in the legume family.

Various regions have varied use of moong. Some use it as it is, some use it in its de-hulled form, while mung sprouts are used in various Asian cuisines.

Packed with good quality proteins and other essential nutrients, mung beans are fast gaining popularity in the health industry.

Nutritional facts

These tiny seeds are fabulously nutritious and as per the USDA, 100 gm of green mung beans contain:
  • Provide 105 kilocalories
  • Contain 7.02 g protein
  • Contain 7.6 g fiber
  • Provide 0.38 g fat
  • Contain 27 mg calcium
  • Has 266 mg Potassium (K)
  • Has 2 mg Sodium (Na)
  • Provides 48 mg Magnesium (Mg)
  • Contains various B complex vitamins including 159 µg Folate
  • Contains 1 mg of Vitamin C
In traditional Asian recipes, mung beans are mostly used in sprouted form, which helps to increase its B complex and Vitamin C content and also makes it easier to digest.

Health benefits

Researches published on mung beans have recorded the myriad health benefits of this super bean. The following are a few of the Mega Health Benefits:

1. Protects Against Heart Disease

According to a study published in the BioMed Research International journal, consumption of lugumes, such as green mung, may have a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. A high intake of these beans has also been associated with reduction in mortality occurring due to various causes[1].

A study investigating the antioxidant activity of mung beans found that they have potent scavenging activity against all of the reactive species that were tested. It also has potent inhibitory effect on the oxidation of LDL cholesterol[2].

Oxidised cholesterol is extremely dangerous for the body. It is mistaken as pathogens by the immune system, which then initiates a response to fight it off. This can cause inflammation inside the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and other heart diseases.

2. Helps in Lowering High Blood Pressure

A normal range of blood pressure (less than 120/80 mm Hg) is essential for a healthy life. Anything above 130/80 mm Hg is termed as hypertension. It has been reported that almost half of all adults in the US have elevated blood pressure levels, but they may not be aware of it.

Untreated high levels of blood pressure for a long duration increases the risk of heart diseases, stroke and other life-altering diseases.

Studies have shown that a high intake of fiber and magnesium can help in preventing hypertension[3]. Good amounts of both these nutrients in mung beans can help exert these protective effects.

Mung beans have also reported to have various peptides which exhibit beneficial bioactivities in the body. ACE inhibition is one such important activity, which helps in the control of hypertension[4].

3. Can Help control Blood sugars

High blood sugars have been associated with various co-morbidities such as nerve, kidney and vision damage. Long term high levels of blood sugar, like those seen in type 2 diabetes, can have a severe impact on the overall health. Thus it is imperative to maintain optimum levels of blood sugars.

Nutrients such as fiber and manganese, which are present in mung beans, can have a positive effect on the sugar control mechanisms.

A study conducted on type 2 diabetic mice showed that supplementation with mung beans for 5 weeks lowered blood glucose levels and at the same time, significantly improved glucose tolerance and increased the insulin levels[6].

4. Can help in healthy pregnancy

Folic acid is essential for a healthy pregnancy. It is essential to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It also reduces the risk of preeclampsia and also early onset of labor.

Mung beans contain good amounts of folate which increases on sprouting the beans. Thus it can be useful for consuming during pregnancy. However, the sprouts should be cooked, as raw sprouts can possibly contain bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.

5. Contains Antioxidants

A study assessing the antioxidant capacity of mung beans conducted in China showed that the two major flavanoids present in mung beans which exert free radical scavenging activity are vitexin and isovitexin[5].

A high free radical scavenging activity means that it can eliminate toxins created in the body, which otherwise would lead to oxidative stress, leading to cancer and other fatal diseases.

Sprouting the mung beans increases its vitamin C content, which is also a great antioxidant and helps in reducing the oxidative stress in the body.

6. Provides a Good Quality Proteins

Proteins are the building blocks of the body. They are essential for new tissue growth and wear and tear of the body.

Consumption of adequate proteins (0.8 g per kg body weight) is essential to maintain these normal functions. Protein sources which have low fat and high fiber, like those found in beans, grains and other vegetarian sources are beneficial for the cardiovascular health.

Mung beans are good sources of essential amino acids such as leucine, isoleucine and valine[7]. When combined with grains, it becomes a complete protein, with all essential amino acids. Such proteins have a high bioavailability and are absorbed easily into the system.

7. Has anti-inflammatory properties

Folk remedies in Asia use mung beans to treat toxic poisoning and heat stroke.

The inflammatory response generated in these conditions is thought to have been benefited by the anti-inflammatory properties of mung beans ethanol extracts.

Cells treated with these polyphenols showed a decrease in pro-inflammatory factors like interleukin, tumor necrosis factor, etc[8].

8. Fights Obesity and Aid in Weight Loss

Owing to the high fiber and protein content of mung beans, they can help to provide satiety, delay gastric emptying and thus, help in regulating food intake. This can help in controlling the calorie consumption and help in weight loss.

Research has shown that foods inherently containing fiber, such as bens, have extremely beneficial metabolic and GI hormone responses[9].

9. Helps Decrease PMS Symptoms

Magnesium and Vitamin B6 have shown to reduce premenstrual symptoms such as water retention, depression and anxiety in a two-stage double blind clinical trial conducted on 126 women[10].

Mung beans contain both these nutrients along with folate, and can help with managing the PMS symptoms.

10. Easier to Digest

Out of all the legumes and beans, mung beans are the easiest to digest. Sprouting them helps to break down the carbohydrates into simpler forms, again making it easier to digest. Incorporating the mung beans in the diet along with spices which aid in digestion will reduce the symptoms of indigestion such as gas or bloating. Such spices include ginger, asafoetida, cumin, etc.

More about mung beans

Mung beans have said to be first domesticated in Persia. Archeological sites such as Harappa in India and Pakistan show evidence of use of mung beans, dating back around 4,500 years.

Cultivation of these beans then spread to China and Southeast Asia. Archeological research in Southern Thailand suggests that mung beans reached Thailand around 2.200 years ago.

How to use?

Mung beans can be used in a variety of recipes. In India, they are traditionally consumed in the whole or split forms. In the whole form, they are sprouted and used in preparations like ‘usal’ and the split ones are used to make ‘dal’. Both these dishes are high in protein and fiber and can be eaten with rice or roti.
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In traditional Chinese cuisine, mung beans are used as a part of stir-fry vegetables, noodles, dumplings and even some desserts. A popular type of ice cream is made in Hong Kong from mung bean paste.

You can take inspirations from these traditional dishes, or can also substitute mung beans in other recipes which have meat or other heavy protein sources.

Salads, soups, pancakes, etc. are some healthy recipes which can be prepared using mung beans.


How to sprout?


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As discussed above, sprouted mung beans have a higher nutrient content than the regular ones. It is quite easy to sprout these beans, once you have the right know-how.
  • Measure out the quantity that you want to use. Mung beans double in volume when sprouted, so be sure to keep that in mind.
  • Rinse the dry beans in a colander under running water to remove any dust or chemicals. Do this till the water runs clear.
  • Transfer the beans to a jar or bowl. The size of the container should be such that the beans occupy 1/4th area.
  • Fill the rest of the container with normal water. The volume should be 2-3 times the quantity of beans. Cover with a lid, which is not too tight.
  • Soak the beans overnight in a cool, dark place.
  • Strain out the water and transfer the soaked beans to a muslin or cheese cloth.
  • Wrap it up and put it in another container and leave it in a warm place.
  • The sprouts are ready in 3-4 days in cooler climate. In warm climate, they take around a day.
  • Remove them from the cloth and store the sprouts in the refrigerator.

How to cook?

Like any other beans, whole mung beans require a long time to cook.

Rinse the beans well, and add them to boiling water (3 cups water for 1 cup beans). Add a bit of salt to the water. Cover with a lid and cook until they are tender.

Whole beans take around 45 minutes, while split ones may cook in 20-30 minutes.

If you are using dry beans, soak them overnight in roughly 3 times the amount of water and cook them the next day as mentioned above.

Precautions

If you are not used to consuming a lot of fiber, it is advisable that you start consuming these beans in small quantities.

You can increase the amount slowly, as your digestive system gets used to it. Also, make sure to include plenty of water while consuming a fiber-rich meal in order to avoid constipation.

Pregnant ladies and those who have a sensitive gut should avoid consuming mung beans in the raw form. Well-cooked beans can be included in the diet.


References:
1. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5688364/
2. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20801948
3. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1330360/
4. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846210/
5. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22980894?dopt=Abstract&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn
6. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18767859
7. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3899625/
8. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3899625/
9. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28735851
10. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161081/