The mung bean (Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek) is a legume cultivated for its edible seeds and sprouts across Asia. The leaves are alternate, trifoliolate with elliptical to ovate leaflets, 5-18 cm long x 3-15 cm broad. The flowers (4-30) are papillonaceous, pale yellow or greenish in colour. The pods are long, cylindrical, hairy and pending. They contain 7 to 20 small, ellipsoid or cube-shaped seeds. The seeds are variable in colour: they are usually green, but can also be yellow, olive, brown, purplish brown or black, mottled and/or ridged. Mung beans — a type of small, green legume in the same plant family as peas and lentils — is a high source of protein, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Although in most parts of the world they’re less popular than other bean varieties, like chickpeas or black beans, mung beans have some huge health benefits to offer!
Health Benefits of Mung Beans
1. Can Help Lower High Cholesterol Levels and Protect Against Heart Disease
One 2011 study published in the Journal of Human and Experimental Toxicology found that mung beans are highly effective at inhibiting LDL “bad” cholesterol oxidation. Mung beans have the ability to regulate cholesterol levels because their antioxidants act like potent free-radical scavengers, reversing damage done to blood vessels and lowering inflammation. (3)
Oxidized LDL cholesterol is one of the biggest risks of deadly cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or stroke. LDL cholesterol can accumulate within the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, and block blood flow, triggering cardiac arrest. Mung beans are a great addition to any anti-inflammatory diet thanks to their ability to keep arteries clear and to improve circulation.
2. Helps Lower High Blood Pressure
Mung beans nutrition include the ability to fight another significant cardiovascular disease risk factor: high blood pressure. In a 2014 study published in the Chemistry Central Journal, rats that were given mung bean sprout extracts for one month experienced significant reductions in systolic blood pressure levels.
The researchers believed that mung beans’ anti-hypertensive effects might be due to their high concentration of protein fragments known as peptides. These help to decrease constricting of blood vessels that raises blood pressure.
3. Fights Obesity and Helps with Weight Loss
Because mung beans nutrition contains high levels of fiber and protein, they are one of the most filling foods there is. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers observed that a single meal with high-fiber beans produced a two-fold greater increase in the satiety hormone called cholecystitis when compared to meals that didn’t contain beans.
Many other studies have found similar results: Namely, that satiety significantly increases after eating beans. Therefore, regularly eating mung beans can help with reducing food intake and boosting weight loss.
History of Mung Beans
Mung beans were first domesticated in India, where they grew as wild plants. Archaeological evidence shows that mung beans were growing in the Harappan civilization in the Punjab and Haryana areas of Indian about 4,500 years ago!
Scholars separate domestication of mung beans into two different species: the kind that grew in southern India (which was a larger-seeded mung bean that began being harvested about 3,000–3,500 years ago) and the even older kind of mung bean that has smaller seeds and grew in northern India. Cultivated mung beans later spread from India to China and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Records show that in Thailand, mung beans have been eaten for at least 2,200 years. Around the 9th or 10th century, mung beans also came to be cultivated in Africa since they grow easily in warm climates and helped feed undernourished populations.
Mung beans are most popular and widely grown today in India, China, Southeast Asia and also somewhat in parts of southern Europe and the U.S. In the U.S., mung beans have been cultivated since around the 1830s, although they’ve really only picked up a following over the past decade or two. Today about 75 percent of the 15–20 million pounds of mung beans consumed in the U.S every year are imported and grown in India and China.