In China, mung beans (Vigna radiata) are a very popular food, particularly in the summer months. They are cultivated in India, China, and Southeast Asia. India is the largest producer with more than 50 percent of world production but consumes almost its entire production.
A very famous ancient Chinese pharmacologist and doctor, Li Shi Zhen (1518-1593), stated in his book Ben Cao Gang Mu (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica) that “mung beans are highly recommended not only as a rich source of nutrients but also as a medicine.”
These beans can be served as green pods, forage, dried seeds, vegetables or seeds for food preparation. Mung bean sprouts can be stir-fried alone as a vegetable or paired with other vegetables such as ginger, scallion, green pepper, or carrots. When cooked, the beans are a hearty, comfort food that can be served as a stew, soup, main dish or dessert.
They are an excellent source of vitamins, such as – vitamin A, B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, minerals – potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, copper, zinc, and manganese.
Health benefits of mung beans
Prevents heart disease – a 2011 study published in the Journal of Human and Experimental Toxicology found that these beans are highly effective at inhibiting LDL cholesterol oxidation. They have the capacity to regulate LDL levels because their antioxidants act like potent free-radical scavengers, lowering inflammation and reversing the damage done to blood vessels.
Anti-cancer effects – these beans contain the flavonoids isovitexin and vitexin which have high free radical scavenging functions. They help lower oxidative stress, the cancer causative factor. Furthermore, according to a 2012 study reported in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the beans suppress the growth of human liver and highly aggressive cervical cancer lines through multiple mechanisms, inducing anti-cancer cytokines, including cytotoxicity, halting cancer cell cycle, and triggering programmed cell death.
Protein – Vigna radiata have considerable amounts of protein content, approximately 3.16 g of protein per cup. Getting your protein from plant-based foods means that you’re more likely to have a lower intake of unhealthy saturated fat and dietary (LDL) cholesterol.
Weight loss – satiety notably increases after consuming these amazing beans. Hence, regularly eating the beans can help with reducing caloric intake and boosting weight loss.
Purification – the tannins, proteins, and flavonoids in the beans are also considered effective for binding to and clearing heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, and lead) and pesticides from the body.
Boosts immunity – the phytonutrients present in Vigna radiata have potent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in fighting against infections and viruses. In addition, it balances the bacteria in the digestive system, helps absorb the nutrients and increases immunity.
A rich source of dietary fiber – a serving of beans contains 1.9 grams of fiber or 8% of your daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Dietary fiber is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. More importantly, a high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids. Also, due to the fact that some fiber is fermented in the colon, scientists are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
Antidiabetic effects – type 2 diabetes affects millions of people every single day. The beans have a low glycemic index of 25, making them an excellent choice for diabetics. Some research concluded that reducing fats in your diet (especially from animal sources and vegetable oil) may also help reduce your risks and chances of developing type 2 diabetes and manage diabetes once you have it, even complete healing.
Vitamin C – a 1-cup serving of these beans sprouts contains 23% of your daily value of vitamin C. Vitamin C is used by your body for repairing, wound healing, and maintaining the health of your teeth and bones, and plays an essential role in helping your body absorb iron. Moreover, vitamin C helps preserve the vascular integrity and is proving beneficial in combating other risk factors for cardiovascular disease and endothelial dysfunction.
Precautions and side effects
Avoid eating these beans if you have diarrhea or if you frequently experience cold symptoms such as cold feet and hands.
Don’t forget to sprout the beans
Studies reveal that germination or sprouting of the beans helps to improve its medicinal and nutritional properties. Also, sprouting activates a live, power-packed food with vitamins, enzymes, and minerals. Additionally, those familiar with sprouting already know that eating sprouted foods is the way to go in order to ensure natural and freshness nutrition that processed foods lack.