You may have heard of Jack and the beanstalk – a fantastical tale of a boy whose life is changed by a few magic beans. Well I’m here to tell you that those magic beans do not have to be a fable. There is a bean that has fantastic nutritional properties that will change the way you eat. Welcome the mung bean!
So… What Are They?
Mung bean, also known as Vigna radiata and by its common names green gram or simply as mung, is a small green legume that is the smallest member of the bean family. It resembles a small whole bean that is encased by a green husk.
Mung beans can be consumed raw or cooked in their whole or split form. They can be fermented; dried and crushed into a powder which resembles flour, or the seeds can be sprouted.
Mung beans are cultivated all over Asia, as well as in Europe, Canada, and The United States (Yi-Shen, Shuai et al. 2018). Mung beans are consumed in different ways around the world, making them a versatile legume.
For example, in India, the dry beans are boiled and then eaten whole; or incorporated into a dhal. Mung beans can also be ground into a flour and incorporated into Indian and Chinese cuisines (Akpapunam 1996). Here in North America, dried mung beans are soaked overnight in jars away from sunlight – forming delicious sprouts in just a week!
You may be wondering why this little bean is such a superfood. Let’s dive in to what gives them their magical properties.
Mung beans are in the legume family, which means they are closely related to chickpeas, lentils, and peas. Like other legumes, mung beans are known to be a great source of plant-based protein, as well as fiber, and various vitamins and minerals.
In fact, mung beans contain up to 25% of protein per weight (Anwar, Latif et al. 2007). In comparison, peas only contain 5% of protein by weight. They also contain essential amino acids leucine, lysine and phenylalanine/tyrosine.
Amino acids are the primary components of proteins, and amino acids and proteins together are the building blocks of life. In our body’s case for example, any amino acids absorbed from our diet are used to maintain muscle since they cannot be stored.
Essential amino acids are vital in a plant-based diet since they cannot be made from our body and must come from the diet. Combining different plant proteins allows for a full protein-profile.
For example, incorporating mung beans with seaweed or sesame seeds makes up for the fact that they lack methionine, and combining mung beans with lentils makes up for their lack of cysteine.
5 Major Health Benefits of Mung Beans
Eating plant-based has multiple benefits, including improving indigestion, lowering cholesterol, and even lowering inflammation. It also decreases the risk of developing a chronic disease such as c diseases, mainly cardiovascular diseases.
Mung beans can be consumed in their processed form, but the non-processed form of sprouting yields amazing nutritional benefits such as improving nutrient digestibility, mineral accessibility, and significantly increasing the number of vitamins. Mung bean sprouts are even rich in probiotics – which support digestive health.
How does this work you may ask? Well plant-based proteins on average have more fiber, folate, and potassium when compared to meat protein.
Our superstar of the week, the mung bean is a nutritious source of plant-based protein. These are just some of the conditions that mung beans can alleviate:
- Lowers Blood Pressure
Mung beans contain potassium, which has the opposite effect of sodium on the body. Potassium increases the excretion of sodium in the kidneys, which draws water with it. Lower blood volume lowers blood pressure and allows our blood vessels to relax (McDonough & Nguyen ,2012).
- Combats Inflammation
Mung beans have a lot of folate and antioxidants. Folate helps to lower inflammation through the decreasing the number of inflammatory factors (macrophages) in our body (Kolb & Petrie, 2013). While the antioxidants such as phenolic acids within mung beans also combat inflammation by neutralizing free radical damage (Shahidi & Yeo, 2018).
- Manages Type 2 Diabetes
Fiber makes us feel fuller by slowing down the time it takes for food to pass through our digestive system. This prevents our blood sugar from spiking, leading to better blood sugar control throughout the day. Fiber also lowers “bad” cholesterol in our body, by preventing bile salts from being reabsorbed in the small intestine (Gunness & Gidley, 2010).
- Lowers “Bad” Blood Cholesterol
Fiber also helps to the bad cholesterol in our blood, called LDL-C. It does this by limiting the amount of LDL-C absorbed in our blood (Segasothy & Phillips ,1999).
- Combats Obesity
Typically, vegetarian diets are lower in calories and fat and do not contain cholesterol. These factors allow for users to lose weight (Segasothy & Phillips, 1999).
Whether your goal is to try new plant-based proteins; or just to incorporate more plants in your diet, the most important thing is to start! Eating more plants is better for your health, and ultimately our planet.
Nutrient Profile of Mung Beans
Mung beans are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. One cup serving of mung beans contains:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 22% of our daily value
- Vitamin B9 (Folate): 80% of our daily value
A serving of Mung beans contains 80% of our daily folate requirement. Say what?
- Iron: 16% of our daily value
- Copper: 16% of our daily value
- Magnesium: 24% of our daily value
- Manganese: 30% of our daily value
- Phosphorus: 20% of our daily value
- Carbs: 38.7 g
- Protein: 14.2 g
- Fat: 0.8 g
- Fiber: 15.4g
Like all beans, mung beans contain a large amount of fiber (61% of our daily requirement)! If your body is not used to eating a lot of fiber, incorporate beans into your diet slowly to prevent any digestion issues.
Mung Bean Recipe Ideas
The Mung bean can be used in both savory and sweet dishes, they really have no limit!
Since we love mung beans so much here at Good Food For Good, we have attached the top three plant-based mung bean recipes below – a special shout out to our readers! You can also find a PDF available for download below, which shows a brief overview of mung beans.
Try this wonderful and hearty mung stew with kale by The Minimalist Vegan. Perfect for chilly days:
Or try this recipe by VeryVeganVal, which is her take on a wine rissoto! Instead of rice she uses split mung beans! So yum:
And finally, these mung bean burgers look so darn good! The recipe uses sprouted mung beans which deliver a bigger nutritional kick and are perfect for when you are craving your burger fix. These burgers also go great accompanied by our Good Food For Good Enchilada sauce.
- Akpapunam, M. (1996). Mung bean (Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek). Food and Feed from Legumes and Oilseeds. E. Nwokolo and J. Smartt. Boston, MA, Springer US: 209-215.
- Anwar, F., et al. (2007). “Chemical composition and antioxidant activity of seeds of different cultivars of mungbean.” J Food Sci 72(7): S503-510.
- Gunness, P. and M. J. Gidley (2010). “Mechanisms underlying the cholesterol-lowering properties of soluble dietary fibre polysaccharides.” Food Funct 1(2): 149-155.
- Kolb, A. F. and L. Petrie (2013). “Folate deficiency enhances the inflammatory response of macrophages.” Mol Immunol 54(2): 164-172.
- McDonough, A. A., & Nguyen, M. T. (2012). How does potassium supplementation lower blood pressure?. American journal of physiology. Renal physiology, 302(9), F1224–F1225. doi:10.1152/ajprenal.00429.2011
- Shahidi, F., & Yeo, J. (2018). Bioactivities of Phenolics by Focusing on Suppression of Chronic Diseases: A Review. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(6), 1573. doi:10.3390/ijms19061573
- Segasothy, M. and P. A. Phillips (1999). “Vegetarian diet: panacea for modern lifestyle diseases?” QJM: An International Journal of Medicine 92(9): 531-544.
- Yi-Shen, Z., et al. (2018). “Mung bean proteins and peptides: nutritional, functional and bioactive properties.” Food & nutrition research 62: 10.29219/fnr.v29262.21290.
- Self. “Mung beans, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt Nutrition Facts & Calories”. Retrieved May 6, 2019, from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4349/2