Mung beans (Vigna radiata) are small, green beans that belong to the legume family.
They have been cultivated since ancient times. While native to India, mung beans later spread to China and various parts of Southeast Asia.
These beans have a slightly sweet taste and are sold fresh, as sprouts or as dried beans. They aren’t as popular in the US but can be purchased from most health food stores.
Mung beans are incredibly versatile and typically eaten in salads, soups, and stir-frys.
They’re high in nutrients and believed to aid many ailments.
Here are 10 health benefits of mung beans.
1. Mung beans are packed with healthy nutrients
Mung beans are rich in vitamins and minerals.
One cup (7 ounces or 202 grams) of boiled mung beans contains:
- Calories: 212
- Fat: 0.8 grams
- Protein: 14.2 grams
- Carbs: 38.7 grams
- Fiber: 15.4 grams
- Folate (B9): 80% of the recommended daily intake
- Manganese: 30% of the recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 24% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B1: 22% of the recommended daily intake
- Phosphorus: 20% of the recommended daily intake
- Iron: 16% of the recommended daily intake
- Copper: 16% of the recommended daily intake
- Potassium: 15% of the recommended daily intake
- Zinc: 11% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and selenium
These beans are one of the best plant-based sources of protein. They’re rich in essential amino acids, such as phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, arginine, and more.
Essential amino acids are those that your body is unable to produce on its own.
Since mung beans are also consumed sprouted, it’s important to note that sprouting changes their nutritional composition. Sprouted beans contain fewer calories and more free amino acids and antioxidants than unsprouted ones.
What’s more, sprouting reduces levels of phytic acid, which is an antinutrient. Antinutrients can reduce the absorption of minerals like zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
Summary: Mung beans are high in important vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. Sprouted mung beans contain fewer calories but have more antioxidants and amino acids.
2. Mung beans may reduce chronic disease risk
Mung beans contain many healthy antioxidants, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, and more.
Antioxidants help neutralize potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals.
In high amounts, free radicals can interact with cellular components and wreak havoc. This damage is linked to chronic inflammation, heart disease, cancers, and other diseases.
Test-tube studies have found that antioxidants from mung beans can neutralize free radical damage linked to cancer growth in lung and stomach cells.
Interestingly, sprouted mung beans appear to have a more impressive antioxidant profile and may contain as much as six times more antioxidants than regular mung beans.
However, most research on the disease-fighting ability of mung bean antioxidants is from test-tube studies. More human-based research is needed before recommendations can be given.
Summary: Mung beans are a good source of antioxidants, which may reduce your risks of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. However, more human-based research is needed before making health recommendations.
3. Mung beans may prevent heat stroke
In many Asian countries, mung bean soup is commonly consumed on hot summer days.
That’s because mung beans are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that help protect against heat stroke, high body temperatures, thirst, and more.
However, some experts question if mung bean soup is any better than drinking water since staying hydrated is a key factor in preventing heatstroke.
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Mung beans also contain the antioxidants vitexin and isovitexin.
Animal studies have shown that these antioxidants in mung bean soup may help defend cells against injury from free radicals that form during heatstroke.
That said, there is very little research in the area of mung beans and heat stroke, so more research, ideally in humans, is needed before making a health recommendation.
Summary: Mung beans contain antioxidants such as vitexin and isovitexin that may protect against free radical damage that occurs during heatstroke.
4. Mung beans may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels
High cholesterol, especially “bad” LDL cholesterol, can raise your risk of heart disease.
Interestingly, research shows that mung beans may have properties that can lower LDL cholesterol.
For instance, animal studies have shown that mung bean antioxidants can lower blood LDL cholesterol and protect the LDL particles from interacting with unstable free radicals.
Moreover, a review of 26 studies found that eating one daily serving (around 130 grams) of legumes, such as beans, significantly lowered blood LDL cholesterol levels.
Another analysis of 10 studies showed that a diet abundant in legumes (excluding soy) can lower blood LDL cholesterol levels by approximately 5%.
Summary: Animal studies have shown that mung bean antioxidants may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, while human studies have linked higher legume consumption to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
5. Mung beans may reduce blood pressure
It’s estimated that 1 in 3 American adults has high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a serious health problem because it puts you at risk of heart disease — the leading cause of death in the world.
Mung beans may help lower blood pressure.
They’re a good source of potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Studies have linked each of these nutrients to a significantly lower risk of high blood pressure.
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Moreover, an analysis of eight studies showed that higher intakes of legumes, such as beans, lowered blood pressure in both adults with and without high blood pressure.
Interestingly, test-tube and animal studies have shown that certain mung bean proteins can suppress enzymes that naturally raise blood pressure. However, it’s still unclear how much of an effect these proteins would have on blood pressure levels in humans.
Summary: Mung beans are a good source of potassium, magnesium, and fiber, which have been linked to lower blood pressure levels in adults with and without high blood pressure.
6. Mung beans may aid digestive health
Mung beans contain a variety of nutrients that are great for digestive health.
For one, they’re high in fiber, providing an impressive 15.4 grams per cooked cup (202 grams).
In particular, mung beans contain a type of soluble fiber called pectin, which can help keep your bowels regular by speeding up the movement of food through your gut.
Mung beans, like other legumes, also contain resistant starch.
Resistant starch works similarly to soluble fiber, as it helps nourish your healthy gut bacteria. The bacteria then digest it and turn it into short-chain fatty acids — butyrate, in particular.
Studies show that butyrate promotes digestive health in many ways. For instance, it can nourish your colon cells, boost your gut’s immune defenses and even lower your colon cancer risk.
What’s more, the carbs in mung beans seem to be easier to digest than those found in other legumes. Therefore, mung beans are less likely to cause flatulence compared to other types of legumes.
Summary: Mung beans contain soluble fiber and resistant starch, which can promote digestive health. The carbs in mung beans are also less likely to cause flatulence than those of other legumes.
7. Mung beans may lower blood sugar levels
If left untreated, high blood sugar can be a serious health problem.
It’s a main characteristic of diabetes and has been linked to several chronic diseases. That’s why health professionals urge people to keep their blood sugar within healthy limits.
Mung beans possess several properties that help keep blood sugar levels low.
They’re high in fiber and protein, which helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Animal studies have also shown that mung bean antioxidants vitexin and isovitexin can lower blood sugar levels and help insulin work more effectively.
Summary: Mung beans are high in fiber and protein and contain antioxidants that may lower blood sugar levels and help insulin work more effectively.
8. Mung beans may promote weight loss
Mung beans are high in fiber and protein, which can help you lose weight.
Studies have shown that fiber and protein can suppress hunger hormones, such as ghrelin.
What’s more, additional studies have found that both nutrients can encourage the release of hormones that make you feel full like peptide YY, GLP-1, and cholecystokinin.
By curbing your appetite, they may help slash your calorie intake, which aids weight loss.
A review of nine studies found that people felt an average of 31% fuller after eating legumes like beans than after eating other staple foods like pasta and bread.
Summary: Mung beans are high in fiber and protein, which can help curb hunger by lowering levels of hunger hormones, such as ghrelin, and raising fullness hormones, such as peptide YY, GLP-1, and cholecystokinin.
9. Folate in mung beans can support a healthy pregnancy
Women are advised to eat plenty of folate-rich foods during pregnancy. Folate is essential for the optimal growth and development of your child.
However, most women don’t get enough folate, which has been linked to a higher risk of birth defects.
Mung beans provide 80% of the recommended daily intake of folate in one cooked cup (202 grams).
They’re also high in iron, protein, and fiber, which women need more during pregnancy.
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However, pregnant women should avoid eating raw mung bean sprouts, as they may carry bacteria that could cause an infection. Cooked beans and sprouts should be safe.
Summary: Mung beans are high in folate, iron, and protein, all of which women need more of during pregnancy. Avoid raw mung bean sprouts when you’re pregnant, as they may contain harmful bacteria.
10. Mung beans are versatile and easy to add to your diet
Mung beans are delicious, versatile, and easy to add to your diet.
They can be used in place of most other beans in dishes like curries, salads, and soups. These beans have a slightly sweet taste and are often made into a paste in Asian desserts.
To cook them, simply boil the beans until tender — about 20–30 minutes. Alternatively, they can be steamed in a pressure cooker for approximately five minutes.
Mung beans can also be enjoyed sprouted, both raw and cooked.
The sprouted beans are best enjoyed in stir-fry meals and curries.
You can learn how to sprout mung beans and other legumes here.
Summary: Mung beans are versatile and easy to add to your diet. The beans are often boiled or steamed, while sprouts are commonly enjoyed either raw or cooked in stir-fry meals.
Mung beans are high in nutrients and antioxidants, which may provide health benefits.
They may protect against heat stroke, aid digestive health, promote weight loss, and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
Since mung beans are healthy, delicious, and versatile, consider incorporating them into your diet.