Mung Beans 101 – The Basics
About Mung Beans
Mung beans are small, oval green beans that are members of the legume family. They are native to India, and have been cultivated for thousands of years. Their popularity led them to quickly spread throughout China and parts of Southeast Asia.
In the United States, they are often sold as sprouts in the produce department of some grocery stores, and many health food stores. Mung beans have a slightly sweet flavor and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, both cooked and sprouted. They are often used in salads, soups, and stir-fries.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Mung Beans
Mung beans are high in fiber, with a one cup serving providing around 15 grams, which is over half the daily recommended intake of fiber! They also are a good source of folate, manganese, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, iron, copper, potassium, and zinc. They also supply appreciable amounts of Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, and selenium. Mung beans are considered to be one of the best plant sources of protein since they are rich in essential amino acids. That’s a lot to say for the humble mung bean!
Antioxidants. Mung beans are high in assorted antioxidants. Antioxidants help to neutralize potentially harmful molecules, known as free radicals, in the body that can raise our risk for various diseases. High levels of free radicals cause cellular damage which increases inflammation, thereby increasing our risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and assorted autoimmune diseases. Research studies have found that the antioxidants in mung beans can neutralize harmful free radicals known to cause lung and stomach cancers.
Interestingly, researchers have found that the number of antioxidants in sprouted mung beans increases up to six times more than those found in unsprouted mung beans.
Improved Cholesterol Levels. Animal studies have shown that the antioxidants in mung beans may lower levels of LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) while also protecting it from harmful free radicals. Simultaneously, human studies have shown that an increased intake of legumes (in general) lowers our LDL levels.
Reduced Blood Pressure. It is estimated that one-third of Americans has high blood pressure. Mung beans are high in specific nutrients, namely potassium, magnesium, and fiber, that are known to lower blood pressure. Adults who consume more beans have been shown to have lower blood pressure. Reinforcing that point, studies demonstrated that specific proteins in mung beans have been found to suppress enzymes that naturally raise blood pressure. This is all the more reason to include legumes of any kind in your diet as often as you can!
Improved Digestive Health. Mung beans are particularly high in fiber and resistant starch. Together, they promote the movement of bowel contents and support the health of our gut by feeding bacteria in the lower intestines. Furthermore, the carbohydrates in mung beans appear to be easier to digest, promoting less flatulence than other legumes.
Improved Blood Sugar Levels. Mung beans have several properties that can help to control blood sugar. The high fiber and protein in mung beans work together to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Animal studies have found that the antioxidants in mung beans lower blood sugar levels and help insulin to work more effectively.
Pregnancy Support. Pregnant women are advised to consume plenty of folate to prevent neural tube defects in their newborn children. Most people don’t get enough folate in their usual diets. Including mung beans in the diet while pregnant can help to fill that need. One cup of cooked mung beans provides 80 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate.
How to Select Mung Beans
Unless you live where mung beans are locally grown, the only ones you’ll find will be dried. They are sold whole and split, but whole mung beans are more common. They should be about ¼-inch long, brightly colored (usually deep green, but sometimes reddish-brown), smooth and oval in shape, and have smooth, undamaged skins (unless you purchased split mung beans).
How to Store Mung Beans
Store dried mung beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. For best results, use dried beans within a year. They will be very edible beyond that, but may take longer to cook. Dried beans dry out even more with age, so older ones will take longer to cook.
If you have store-bought mung bean sprouts, store them in the refrigerator in their original container and use them by the “Best by” date on the package. Do not wash the sprouts until you are ready to use them.
Unwashed bean sprouts that you grew yourself should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic container or bag with a clean cloth or paper towel under the sprouts to absorb any excess moisture. Another paper towel or cloth may also be placed on top of them for moisture absorption. If you have a lot of sprouts in the container, you could layer the sprouts with more paper towels or cloths for moisture absorption. The container or bag can be left slightly open to allow for air flow to help keep the sprouts dry. They should be used within 5 days. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them.
Once you have cooked your mung beans, store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you cannot use them within that time, freeze them in an airtight container, and use them within three months.
How to Prepare Mung Beans
Soaking Mung Beans. Soaking dried mung beans before cooking is optional. Since they are small beans, they cook quickly. However, presoaking them helps to reduce their phytic acid content, making them easier to digest, and also allows them to cook faster. To soak mung beans, first sort through your dried mung beans and remove any damaged or discolored beans, along with any debris. Place them in a bowl or jar with a lid. Rinse then drain the beans. Then fill the bowl or jar with water and cover it. Allow the mung beans to soak for 8 to 12 hours. Drain the water, then rinse and drain them again. Your soaked mung beans can then be sprouted or cooked as desired.
Cooking Unsoaked Mung Beans. Presoaking mung beans before cooking is optional. Since they are small beans, they cook quickly. To cook mung beans that were not presoaked, first sort through your dried mung beans and remove any damaged or discolored beans, along with any debris. Rinse the dried mung beans well, then drain. The standard rule of thumb is to place one part of mung beans to three parts of water in a pot. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook them about 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain any remaining water, then use as desired. Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.
Cooking Soaked Mung Beans. Soaked mung beans will cook faster than those that were not presoaked. Place one part of beans to three parts of water in a pot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until they are tender to your liking. They will cook faster than those that were not soaked first, so monitor them so they do not overcook and become mushy. Drain any remaining water, then use as desired. Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.
Sprouting Mung Beans
Mung beans may be sprouted in a jar or on a tray. They are easy to sprout, and are usable in as little as 2 days. For instructions on how to sprout mung beans in the simplest way, visit Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds on their mung bean page at https://mumms-seeds.sherpaonline.io/products/cat/66
Judi in the Kitchen video demonstration of growing mung bean sprouts in a jar, start to harvest … https://youtu.be/Ky0LWJw1uNs
To grow thick, long mung bean shoots, sprout them on a plate or tray under a cloth or paper towel. On the third day, add some weight on top. A plate or book may be enough to provide some added weight while still allowing air flow (which is vital, or the sprouts may spoil). For detailed instructions, visit the Sprout House at https://sprouthouse.com/blog/how-to-grow-fatter-tender-mung-beans/
Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Mung Beans
* Presoaking mung beans is optional. They are small and quick to cook, compared with other beans like kidney beans. However, they may be soaked for up to 12 hours (8 hours is usually enough) to remove gas-causing compounds, if preferred.
* Split mung beans, with the outer hull removed, are called moong dal. The split version has slightly less fiber and cooks faster than the whole beans.
* Mung beans don’t have to be sprouted. They can also be pressure-cooked, sautéed, simmered, and stir-fried (in addition to being sprouted).
* The US Dry Bean Council recommends adding ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per pound of dried beans to cooking water. This helps them to soften up and cook faster. This will be especially helpful if your beans have been stored for over a year. The older they are, the drier they get and the longer they take to cook.
* If you can take the time, sprouting mung beans before cooking them is a valuable step in reducing their phytic acid, which reduces the absorption of specific minerals in a meal.
* Unsoaked dried mung beans will triple in bulk when boiled. So, one cup of unsoaked mung beans will yield three cups of cooked. When cooking soaked and/or sprouted mung beans, they will not soak up quite as much water, so they will not quite triple in yield.
* Add mung beans to a stir-fry with broccoli and cabbage.
* Try using mung beans in place of lentils in a recipe.
* Include cooked mung beans in minestrone or vegetable soup.
* If you overcooked mung beans, simply blend them with your favorite hummus ingredients to make mung bean hummus.
* Add mung bean sprouts or cooled cooked mung beans to lettuce or other wraps.
* If you bought mung beans for the sake of sprouting them, store them in the refrigerator or freezer for extended germination life.
Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Mung Beans
Bay leaf, cayenne, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garam masala, ginger, mustard seeds, parsley, salt, turmeric
Foods That Go Well with Mung Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, lentils, peas (i.e. split), pork, shrimp, sugar snap peas, tempeh, tofu
Vegetables: Bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage (esp. napa), carrots, chiles, chives, garlic, greens (in general), leeks, mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomatoes, vegetables (in general)
Fruits: Coconut, lemon, lime
Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur, grains (in general), millet, noodles (esp. Asian), rice
Dairy and Non-Dairy: Coconut milk, ghee, yogurt
Other Foods: Oil
Mung Beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Asian cuisines, casseroles, Chinese cuisine, curries, dals, gravies, hummus, Indian cuisine, moong dal, mujadara, pancakes, pilafs, purees, salads, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, sprouts (mung bean), stews
Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Mung Beans
Add mung beans to any of the following combinations…
Bulgur + olive oil + onions
Cumin + garlic + ginger + onions and/or coriander
Ayurvedic Spinach-Mung Detox Soup [Vegan] https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/ayurvedic-spinach-mung-detox-soup-vegan/
Mung Bean and Coconut Curry https://www.heynutritionlady.com/mung-bean-and-coconut-curry/#wprm-recipe-container-8430
Mung Beans with Caramelized Onions and Nigella [Fennel] Seeds https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/mung-beans-with-caramelised-onions-and-nigella-seeds
Mung Bean Soup https://www.liveeatlearn.com/mung-bean-soup/
One-Pot Mung Bean Stew https://www.makingthymeforhealth.com/one-pot-coconut-mung-bean-stew/
Mung Bean Hummus https://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/mung-bean-hummus-recipe.html
Mung Bean and Kale Soup https://skinnyms.com/mung-bean-and-kale-soup-recipe/
Mung Bean Noodles Braised with Shrimp https://www.chinasichuanfood.com/braised-mung-bean-noodles-with-shrimps/
Mung Bean + Cilantro Falafel Tacos http://www.dollyandoatmeal.com/blog/2015/3/16/mung-bean-cilantro-falafel-tacos
Sprouted Mung Bean Burger with Mint-Cilantro Chutney https://holycowvegan.net/sprouted-mung-bean-burger-with-mint-cilantro-chutney/
Summer Veggie Mung Bean Salad https://thekitchenpaper.com/summer-veggie-mung-bean-salad/
Tangy Raw Cauliflower Salad https://www.giverecipe.com/tangy-raw-cauliflower-salad/#tasty-recipes-12117
Vegetable Stir-Fry Mung Bean Noodles https://healthynibblesandbits.com/vegetable-stir-fry-mung-bean-noodles/
Hearty Mung Bean Stew with Kale https://theminimalistvegan.com/mung-bean-stew/
Mung Bean Salad https://rouxbe.com/recipes/1923-mung-bean-salad
Philippine Mung Beans in Coconut Milk https://www.food.com/recipe/philippine-mung-beans-in-coconut-milk-176928
Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.