Mung Beans: Evidence-based Benefits, Nutrition, And Recipes

Reviewed By Madhu Sharma, Registered Dietitian
Written by Swathi Handoo

Mung bean or green gram is known for its antioxidant properties. These beans can be given to infants and adults – including those with diabetes and hypertension. They are also rich in fiber, minerals, flavonoids, and phenolic acids.

Read this article to find out the health benefits of mung beans, their contents, and who should not eat them. Swipe up!

More About Mung Beans

Mung beans (Vigna radiata) are small olive-green beans from the family of legumes/beans (Leguminosae). This crop is native to the warm lands of India. These beans are also popularly known as green gram or golden gram and are grown as a food and animal forage crop (1), (2).

Mung beans and their sprouts are widely used in fresh salads in India, China, Bangladesh, South East Asia, and western countries. The credit goes to their balanced nutritional profile.

These beans are high in proteins, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and active biochemicals. They are the best sources of amino acids, plant starches, and enzymes (1), (2).

Thus, eating them is known to ease digestion, especially in the summers. The antioxidant activity of mung beans plays a vital role in dealing with infections, inflammation, and chemical stress in your body (1), (2).

Want to know more about the benefits of these little legumes? Check out the next section!

7 Benefits Of Mung Beans

With their high protein and antioxidant quotient, mung beans may aid in fighting diabetes and heart diseases. They can prevent heat strokes and fever as well. Studies also show the anticancer properties of these legumes.

1. Possess Antioxidant Activity

The proteins and polyphenols in the seeds, sprouts, and hulls of mung beans show potential antioxidant activity. They can scavenge free radicals – like peroxide and  superoxide ions – in your body (1).

Vitexin and isovitexin are the major antioxidant components found in mung beans. Mung beans have the highest antioxidant effect when sprouting. The antioxidant activity of mung beans is said to be about 195% of vitamin C (100 g of mung beans = 1462 mg of vitamin C) (1).

Above all, mung bean extracts possess significantly higher antioxidant activity than soybean extracts. Therefore, they have the potential to prevent several chronic disorders (like cancer) induced by free radical accumulation (1).

2. May Prevent Heat Stroke

Heatstroke is characterized by dehydration and irritability. This could be a result of inadequate fluid intake and excessive loss of water/fluids through sweat. Another critical development during summers is the build-up of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body (3).

This happens because the summer heat demands a high metabolic rate to meet the needs of your body and maximize energy yield. These events, ultimately, lead to a chemical imbalance (3).

Mung flavonoids, including vitexin, eliminate chemical stress and reduce the levels of inflammation. This is why the Chinese commonly drink mung bean soup during summers (1), (3).

3. May Maintain Cholesterol Levels And Heart Health

The proteins in germinating legumes help in controlling lipid metabolism. Mung bean sprouts and germinating seeds are packed with such proteins. These legumes reduce the total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in your system (4).

Cooked and whole mung beans also showed similar lipid-lowering effects. They prevent lipid deposition/accumulation in the liver, heart, and blood vessels. The antioxidant effect blocks the free radicals from acting on accumulated cholesterol in these organs (4).

Thus, mung beans may protect you from cardiovascular diseases (like atherosclerosis). Moreover, one cup of raw, sprouted mung beans has about 155 mg of potassium. That is why about 600 mg/kg of mung peptides could reduce systolic blood pressure in animal subjects. This study demonstrates how mung beans regulate hypertension and preserve heart health (1), (4).

4. May Promote Digestion And Gut Health

Mung beans contain good amounts of insoluble fiber, proteins, and complex carbohydrates. These nutrients boost the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in your gut. Studies have reported an increase in the count of Bacteroidetes – a class of bacteria that prevent obesity (5), (6).

Moreover, mung beans cause less bloating and are easy to digest. Therefore, they are great for children. You can use these beans to prepare a food supplement for weaning infants as they are high on nutrition and allergen-free (5).

However, these beans also contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid that interfere in the absorption of minerals and other nutrients. Eating cooked or sprouted mung beans may solve this problem (5).

5. May Help In Managing Diabetes

Due to their low glycemic index, mung beans are one of the most recommended foods for people with diabetes. They are composed of complex carbohydrates and fiber that take longer to digest. This means eating these beans will not cause sudden spikes in your blood glucose levels (7).

Clinical trials have established that mung bean extracts enhance glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in subjects. They may also trigger the regeneration of insulin-producing cells (ß-cells) in the pancreas (7), (8).

The active molecules suppressed the inflammation of the pancreas and other vital organs in these patients. Moreover, the antioxidants in mung beans eliminate free radicals that worsen such inflammatory diseases (7).

Trivia Time!

  • Mung beans may have anti-obesity effects as they can regulate lipid production and fat accumulation in your body (9).
  • Mung bean extracts also tone down inflammation, which may induce obesity in some cases. However, there is no consistency in such reports (9).
  • Since they are rich in folate, potassium, iron, and other necessary micronutrients, pregnant and nursing women may enjoy mung beans. However, several studies advise against it (10).
  • If not cleaned well, mung bean sprouts may develop fungal and bacterial growth. The presence of anti-nutrients could be another reason to avoid these beans during such sensitive phases (10). Storing mung sprouts in a warm, moist environment may induce fungal growth. Hence, they need to be either steamed or kept in refrigerator in an airtight container.
  • These legumes regulate cholesterol metabolism and accumulation, particularly in your liver. Mung bean phytochemicals can prevent fibrosis and liver injury in people with high cholesterol and heart disease (11).
  • Scientists claim that mung bean antioxidants may lower the risk of liver, breast, and intestinal cancers. They may slow down the rate of proliferation of cancer cells. They may also reduce the inflammation and tissue damage caused by tumorigenesis (5).
  • The Chinese eat noodles made from mung bean starch called cellophane or glass noodles. These noodles are transparent, dehydrated strands that do not need to be boiled to rehydrate. Glass noodles are low in fat and high in carbs, minerals, and proteins. Hence, they are an interesting replacement for rice/flat noodles.

6. Exert Antimicrobial Effect

The polyphenols extracted from mung beans possess both antibacterial and antifungal activities. Mung seed proteins, like mungin, kill various fungi like Fusarium solani, Fusarium oxysporum, Coprinus comatus, and Botrytis cinerea (1).

Certain bacterial strains, including Staphylococcus aureus and Helicobacter pylori, have also been found to be susceptible to these proteins. Mung bean enzymes break down the cell walls of these microbes and prevent them from inhabiting your gut, spleen, and vital organs (1).

You can, therefore, use their extracts to increase the shelf life of your food. They not kill microbes but also act as meat tenderizers (12).

7. Have Anti-inflammatory Effects

Polyphenols, such as vitexin, gallic acid, and isovitexin, reduce inflammation in your body. Animal cells treated with these active molecules had reduced levels of inflammatory compounds (interleukins and nitric oxide) (1).

Mung bean coat flavonoids work towards increasing the production of anti-inflammatory compounds in your body. Thus, these legumes may be effective against inflammatory disorders like diabetes, allergies, and sepsis (1), (13).

Germinated and fermented mung bean extracts are reported to have higher anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. They also contain pain-controlling neurotransmitters (gamma-aminobutyric acid [GABA]) that help in treating pain and swelling (edema) in the inflamed areas (13).

The nutritional and biochemical composition of mung beans are    responsible for their amazing properties. Find out the contents of mung seeds, coat, and sprouts in the next section.

Nutritional And Biochemical Profile Of Mung Beans

NutrientUnit1 cup = 104.0g
Total lipid (fat)g0.19
Carbohydrate, by differenceg6.18
Fiber, total dietaryg1.9
Sugars, totalg4.3
Calcium, Camg14
Iron, Femg0.95
Magnesium, Mgmg22
Phosphorus, Pmg56
Potassium, Kmg155
Sodium, Namg6
Zinc, Znmg0.43
Copper, Cumg0.171
Manganese, Mnmg0.196
Selenium, Seµg0.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg13.7
Pantothenic acidmg0.395
Vitamin B-6mg0.092
Folate, totalµg63
Folate, foodµg63
Folate, DFEµg63
Choline, totalmg15
Carotene, betaµg6
Carotene, alphaµg6
Cryptoxanthin, betaµg6
Vitamin A, IUIU22
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)µg34.3
Fatty acids, total saturatedg0.048
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg0.023
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg0.06
Amino Acids
Aspartic acidg0.498
Glutamic acidg0.167
Total isoflavonesmg0.1

Source: USDA

Mung beans contain about 20–24% protein, 50–60% carbohydrates, and a significant amount of fiber and micronutrients. They also have a rich and balanced biochemical profile.

Several chemical analyses have identified flavonoids, phenolic acids, and phytosterols in various parts of the mung bean (1).

Flavonoids: Vitexin, isovitexin, daidzein, genistein, prunetin, biochanin A, rutin, quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, rhamnetin, kaempferitrin, naringin, hesperetin, delphinidin, and coumestrol.

Phenolic acids: Hydroxybenzoic acid, syringic acid, vanillic acid, gallic acid, shikimic acid, protocatechuic acid, coumaric acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, gentisic acid, and chlorogenic acid.

These phytochemicals work together to eliminate the free radicals and tone down inflammation in your system.

Doesn’t that make mung beans a mandatory addition to your diet?

It takes very little time to cook these beans. Why don’t you start with this simple but difficult-to-resist recipe?

How To Cook With Mung Beans

Mung And Quinoa Mega-meal Bowl

What You Need

  • Olive oil: 4 tablespoons
  • Celery: 1 head cut into ½-inch segments
  • Garlic: 1 large clove, very thinly sliced
  • Red chili flakes: ½ teaspoon
  • Ground ginger: ½ teaspoon
  • Turmeric: ½ teaspoon
  • Smoked paprika: 2 teaspoons
  • Dill leaves: A handful, chopped
  • Mung beans: 2½ cups, cooked
  • Quinoa: 1 cup, cooked
  • Water: 1/2-3/4 cup, or as much as needed
  • Fine-grain sea salt: to taste
  • Skillet/pan: large-sized

(You can also top this bowl with bell peppers, green olives, roasted cherry tomatoes, pickled red onions/shallots, and chicken.)

Let’s Make It!

  1. Heat the oil in the pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Toss in the celery pieces and sprinkle some salt.
  3. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the celery starts to turn brown and caramelize. Stir every few minutes.
  4. Add the chopped garlic, chili flakes, ginger, turmeric, and paprika.
  5. Cook, constantly stirring, for another minute or until the spices are fragrant.
  6. Add the mung beans, quinoa, dill leaves, and 1/2-3/4 cup of water or enough to keep the mixture moist.
  7. Toss and stir the contents well for 1-2 minutes to combine the flavors.
  8. As a final touch, add a dollop of lightly salted yogurt to each bowl. This step is optional.
  9. Serve hot with braised/pan-fried chicken/meat/eggs/cottage cheese. Cold dips go very well with this meal bowl.

This will leave you full and fueled up for a long day!

You can also make keto and vegan versions of this recipe. They taste equally refreshing.

Should you worry about any adverse effects from these legumes? Like other legumes, are mung beans linked to any disorders? Keep reading for answers!

Do Mung Beans Have Any Side Effects Or Risks?

Very little or no information is available about the safety of mung beans. They contain anti-nutrients and estrogen-like phytosterols that could harm your body. But researchers have not raised any questions about its side effects.

However, do not presume them to be safe.

The US FDA says anyone with a weakened immune system should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind. Mung bean, alfalfa, clover, and radish sprouts fall in this category (14).

Pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with food allergies are suggested to stay away from such sprouts (14).

The sprouts may carry pathogenic bacteria (E.coli, Salmonella). Unhygienic harvest and storage conditions favor their growth.

If eaten raw or half-cooked, mung beans may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and food poisoning.

What should you do to prevent such reactions? What practices should you follow?

What Precautions Should You Take When Using Mung Beans?

If you are having sprouted mung beans or bean sprouts, here are a few things you should keep in mind (14):

  • Buy only sprouts kept at refrigerator
  • Select crisp-looking sprouts with the buds attached.
  • If you find musty-smelling, dark, or slimy-looking sprouts, discard them. Report it to the store authorities.
  • A better option is to refrigerate sprouts at home. Store at a temperature of 40°F or below.
  • Rinse mung bean sprouts thoroughly with water before use to remove surface dirt and grime. Do not use soap or other detergents.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling raw food to prevent the transfer of food molds/bacteria.

Cooking mung beans thoroughly is safer as heat and condiments kill dangerous bacteria. Choose the right kind of mung bean/sprouts. Process them with care and attention before consuming them.

In Summary

Mung beans are a natural source of fiber, essential amino acids, minerals, and phytochemicals. They have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, digestive, antidiabetic, and anticancer properties.

Mung bean flavonoids, phenolic acids, and minerals are responsible for these health benefits. Add them to your soups, salads, and main course dishes. Make it a point to eat at least 1 cup of mung beans (or any other legume) per day.

Maintain strict hygiene while handling them to avoid undesirable effects. If you have any queries and suggestions related to mung beans, leave them in the comments section below. We will get back to you.

Until next time, enjoy the magic of “mung” in your meals!


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Swathi holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. Blending her love for writing with science, Swathi writes for Health and Wellness and simplifies complex topics for readers from all walks of life.And on the days she doesn’t write, she learns and performs Kathak, sings Carnatic music compositions, makes plans to travel, and obsesses over cleanliness.