A-mung the most nutritious foods the plant world has to offer…mung beans could be your new legume go-to.
Keep reading to learn all about this small, yet impressive green bean, how to use it in your favourite cuisine, and the many amazing health benefits that come with munching away on mung beans.
What are mung beans?
The mighty mung bean has been cultivated since ancient times. You may have also heard it being referred to as the green gram, moong or mash. Mung beans originally hail from India, but have become extremely popular in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine over the years.
You’re most likely to find them for sale on many a corner in the East, but in the West, you will mostly find them dried for sale in health food stores.
Mung beans have a slightly sweet taste and can come fresh, dried or sprouted. They’re extremely versatile and can be enjoyed in soups, salads, stir-frys and curries.
It’s easy for people to get mung beans and lentils mixed up, but they really aren’t the same thing at all. Lentils are legumes that are shaped like a lens, e.g. wider in the middle and narrow at either end.1
Beans tend to be larger than lentils. In the case of mung beans, they don’t fall into the lentil category. In fact, they used to belong to the bean species, but were reclassified and are no longer classed as being beans either, despite having ‘bean’ in their name!
When it comes to categorising mung beans, they’re pulses. Pulses are a type of dried legume that grows in a pod that contains up to 12 seeds.
Mung beans have a slightly sweet taste and can come fresh, dried or sprouted. They’re classed as being a legume and are an incredibly versatile cooking ingredient for dishes, such as soup and salads, stir-frys and curries.
What are dried mung beans?
Dried mung beans are, as the name suggests, dried mung beans.2
When selecting mung beans, you want to go for ones that are nice and bright in colour (usually green or red), are nice and smooth, don’t have any cracks or splits in them or any discolouration or soft patches.
Mung beans tend to be mainly sold dried. If you’re buying dried mung beans, make sure they’re nice and dry throughout. In comparison, fresh mung beans are slightly larger and feel softer than dried mung beans, and tend to be sold in their pods.
Also, make sure when you’re buying dried mung beans that there aren’t many stones or bits of dirt in the bottom of the packet. And always avoid broken or shrunken beans because they tend to cook unevenly.
Dried mung beans are fresh mung beans that have been dried out. Make sure the dried mung beans you buy are a vibrant colour and smooth, contain no cracks or splits and aren’t discoloured.
Mung bean nutritional value
One 100g serving of raw mung beans will provide you with3:
|Amount||% of RDA*|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||1.91mg||38%|
Just one 100g serving of mung beans contains so many vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium and minimal calories.
Health benefits of mung beans
Here’s the lowdown on mung bean’s benefits.
They’re packed full of protein
As you may have gathered from the nutritional info on mung beans covered above, they’re an incredible source of plant-based protein. These small-but-mighty beans are rich in several essential amino acids, such as leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, lysine, arginine, valine and many more.
What’s more, their benefits only increase when you buy the sprouted version of them; the calorie count goes down and the free amino acid levels go up.
And are rich in fibre
The beauty of plant proteins, like mung beans, are that they provide so much on top of their protein content. Something mung beans contain in abundance is fibre – both soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fibre can help you to feel fuller for longer and improve nutrient absorption from the food you eat by slowing down your digestion.
- Insoluble fibre can make going to the toilet easier and more comfortable by adding more bulk to your stool.
They have amazing antioxidant powers
Mung beans contain a lot of antioxidants, including flavonoids, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid and more.
Our bodies use antioxidants to combat potentially harmful compounds called free radicals that can damage our cells. This is often referred to as oxidative stress – too much of which can lead to health issues.4
It’s believed sprouted mung beans contain as much as six times more antioxidants than regular mung beans.5
They can help keep your bones healthy
Mung beans are an excellent source of magnesium, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones.
They’re a natural source of several B vitamins
Mung beans are a natural source of B vitamins. They are especially rich in thiamine (Vitamin B1) and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), both of which can help our nervous system function and help reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue.
They may reduce bad cholesterol and the risk of heart disease
Research has shown that mung beans may contain properties that can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.6
Animal studies have revealed the antioxidant properties in mung beans (mentioned above) can lower blood LDL cholesterol and protect the LDL particles from interacting with unstable free radicals. What’s more, a review of 26 studies found that eating a serving (around 13g) of legumes a day, such as beans, significantly lowered blood LDL cholesterol levels.
Meanwhile, a separate piece of research, that analysed 10 studies, concluded that a diet that’s rich in legumes (with the exception of soy) can lower blood LDL cholesterol levels by approximately 5%.
They can help normalise blood pressure
Due to the fact that mung beans are a good source of potassium, magnesium and fibre, it’s believed they can help bring people’s blood pressure levels down. Studies have linked each of these nutrients – potassium, magnesium and fibre - to a significantly lower risk of high blood pressure.7
In addition, an analysis of eight studies showed that eating more legumes, such as beans, lowered blood pressure in both adults with and without high blood pressure.
They may support digestive health
You’ll know from benefit number 2 that mung beans happen to be full of fibre, which includes the insoluble variety. More specifically, they contain a type of soluble fibre called pectin, which can help keep your bowels regular and speed up the rate at which food is digested and moves through your gut.8
On top of all this, mung beans contain resistant starch, which is similar to soluble fibre because it helps nourish your healthy gut bacteria. The bacteria then digest this starch and turn it into short-chain fatty acids — butyrate, in particular.
Studies have shown that butyrate promotes digestive health in many ways. For instance, it can nourish your colon cells and boost your gut’s immune defenses.
Mung beans have been linked to lots of health benefits that range from supporting blood pressure and bad cholesterol, to protecting against free radicals and providing plenty of fibre and protein.
Should anyone avoid eating mung beans?
Most of us should be fine with adding mung beans to our diets. And they’re a great protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
Mung beans are considered to be one of the most cherished foods within ancient holistic medicine practice. They're widely referred to as being ‘tri-doshic’, which means they work well for all body types when cooked with the right spices. Combining them with ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric, can make them more easy to digest.9
The only people who should be a bit wary of eating mung beans are those who suffer from gas and intestinal discomfort – especially if they don’t usually eat that many beans, legumes or pulses.
We recommend slowly introducing them into your diet – don’t go eating mung beans morning, noon and night from the outset! Try them in small portions and see how your body reacts to them.
Most people tend to get on with eating mung beans, and they’re a great way for vegan and vegetarians to get their protein hit. Introduce them to your diet slowly, just to be sure you’re ok with them.
How to eat mung beans
Now you’re all clued up on why mung beans are super good for you, let’s discuss all of the tasty ways you can introduce them into your diet.
How to cook dried mung beans in a healthy way
In the UK and other western countries, you’ll most likely find that dried mung beans need to be re-hydrated before you cook with them.
Use this method for soaking mung beans:
- Soak them in cold water for a minimum of 8 hours – or leave them overnight.
- Drain and rinse and add them to a pan of water.
- Bring them to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes until tender.
Mung bean curry recipe
Whether you like a spicy Indian-style curry or a coconutty Thai curry, mung beans make a tasty replacement for protein sources, such as meat, fish and lentils.
Try swapping the lentils in this recipe with re-hydrated mung beans for a tasty, creamy and nutritious Aubergine daal with coconut curry.
Mung bean curry recipe
Mung bean herb fritters recipe
Another popular way to cook with mung beans is by making these tasty herb fritters.
Mung bean herb fritters recipe
- 1 cup split mung beans
- 3 big kaffir leaves chopped
- 2 green onions chopped
- 1/8 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 cup cilantro minced
- 1/3 cup white onion chopped
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 cup almond meal (if the mixture seems a little on the wet side)
- Coconut oil10
- Soak the beans overnight or for six hours. Strain and rinse. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Blend all of the ingredients except the cilantro and beans. Strain and rinse the beans.
- Pulse half of the beans into a paste then mix it with the un-blended beans. Combine the beans and the blended herbs.
- Shape small balls in the palm of your hand (about one inch by one inch in size).
- Smooth coconut oil over parchment paper and line the balls so they’re equally spaced out.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then roll them so that the less-cooked side is facing down.
- Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Leave to cool, enjoy and store any remaining balls in an airtight container!
How long do dried mung beans last?
A bag of mung beans can last between 2 and 3 years, always check the dates on the packet though. It all depends on if they’ve been opened or are unopened too.
How to prepare dried mung beans for sprouting
Another popular – and even more nutritious – way to enjoy mung beans is to sprout them.
How to prepare dried mung beans for sprouting
Use this method for sprouting mung beans:
- Take your dried mung beans, discard any broken and shrivelled up ones and wash them carefully.
- Soak them in clean water for at least 12 hours until they have doubled in size and you see sprouts starting to appear.
- Pour away the soaking water and rinse the beans in clear water again.
- Place a layer of mung bean sprouts on the bottom of a clay pot and leave them in a dark and cool place – otherwise they may start growing leaves!
- Rinse the mung beans with clean water and discard the water twice a day.
- Wait for around 4 to 7 days, and tah-dah! Sprouted mung beans for you to enjoy!
Mung beans are a marvellous ingredient that has been linked to so many health benefits and is incredibly versatile to cook with. Mung beans are available in different forms (fresh, dried and sprouted) and can be added to so many different dishes, adding heaps of nutrition in the process.
We hope this guide has given you a better insight into the mighty mung bean which, despite its size, is clearly mighty in more ways than one. Enjoy experimenting; there’s a mung bean recipe out there for everyone!
Last updated: 26 April 2021