There are so many beans out there, from baked to kidney to pinto! But have you tried mung beans? Maybe you have but didn’t know the name when dining on ethnic cuisine.
Read on to learn about these beans. You may find that you’ll want to eat them not only in salads or stir fry but also in anything!
What is a Mung Bean?
This pea-like bean is part of the legume (Fabaceae) family, relating to cowpeas and peanuts. It has other names, including but not limited to green gram, chop suey bean, monggo, and moong.
It was domesticated in India, dating back three to four thousand years ago. Now it’s prevalent throughout China and Southeast Asia, as well as Africa.
Bean and Plant Characteristics
The bean is small and green, yellowish brown, or black with a white mark (the hilum) in the center. It works as a self-pollinating seed in the pod, which holds 12 to 15 seeds.
When the bean is split, its green/brown/black skin is removed and appears pale yellow.
The plant grows 2.5 feet tall or more, with pale yellow flowers at the top. The pods are fuzzy and start out green. Once they’ve matured, they turn yellow or brown, even black.
Eat Healthy with Mung Beans
These are some of the nutrition stats for one cup (202g) of these cooked beans according to USDA’s FoodData Central:
- Calories: 212
- Carbohydrates: 38.8g
- Dietary fiber: 15.4g
- Sugars: 4.04g
- Protein: 14.2g
- No cholesterol
- Potassium: 537mg
- Magnesium: 97mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.135mg
These beans can serve as an alternative to meat and dairy products since they’re high in protein. This is helpful for people who have no access to meat or follow a vegan or vegetarian diet!
Here are five more examples of their health benefits:
1. Preventing Heat Stroke
Mung beans are used in some Asian countries as traditional Chinese medicine in soups or drinks. They are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent heat stroke and regulate body temperature.
Still, just to be safe on hot days, it’s best to keep drinking water besides eating the beans.
2. Aiding and Easing Digestion
The high fiber content in mung beans keeps the food in your gut moving so your bowels stay regular.
The carbohydrates and protein make them easily digestible. Soaking in water for four to five hours or sprouting them before cooking can remove flatulence-causing compounds.
3. Lowering Blood Pressure
Along with fiber, the potassium, magnesium, and peptides (protein fragments) in mung beans keep blood pressure low by reducing constriction in blood vessels.
4. Treating or Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
Research shows that mung beans can lower blood glucose levels. In addition, their proteins help insulin absorb glucose and convert it to energy as it’s supposed to.
They can also reduce your risk of becoming diabetic if you don’t have the disease.
5. Decreasing PMS Symptoms
Thanks to the folate and vitamin B6 in the beans, your PMS symptoms won’t be as painful as before! The nutrients reduce pain levels from changing hormones.
Though an allergy to this bean is rare, cross-reactivity is a risk to consider. This means if you’re allergic to soy or another legume, like peanuts, you could be allergic to the mung bean.
If you suspect you have this allergy, talk to your doctor to be sure.
Cooking Mung Beans
Mung beans taste mild and sweet with a nutty flavor. Besides good taste, we all like food that cooks up quickly and can be added to any diet. Whole or split, these versatile beans offer these benefits!
Here are two ways you can cook them:
On a Stove Top
Examine the beans for any small rocks or other debris mixed in with the beans. Old, spoiled-looking beans need to be thrown out as well.
Pour three cups of water into a pot and, if you choose to, add salt or any seasoning of your choice. Once the water boils, add one cup of beans and stir until they sink to the bottom.
Let the water boil again and reduce the heat to a medium-low so the water simmers. When the beans are soft after 45 minutes to an hour, they’re ready to serve.
In a Slow Cooker
As before, examine your mung beans for debris or bad beans. Pour in one cup of beans and add three cups of water and seasonings of your choice.
Set your times according to your preference — high for a few hours or low for several hours. The times may vary depending on your slow cooker, so check the beans periodically until they’re tender.
Sprouting Mung Beans
It’s easy to sprout the beans yourself if you prefer not to buy ones already in that form. Here are the items you will need:
- Clean water
- Napkin or paper towel
- Rubber band
- Baking sheet
After discarding the debris and hard/spoiled ones, measure out your beans to fill a bowl a fourth of the way up. Place the beans in a strainer and rinse them in clean water until the water is clear.
Transfer them to the bowl and pour in filtered, lukewarm water two to three inches above the beans. Allow the bowl to sit overnight at room temperature.
The next day, put the beans in a jar and wrap a napkin or paper towel around the rim. Secure the napkin/towel with a rubber band and put the jar in a dark place.
For a couple of days, repeat the straining/rinsing process to avoid contamination. Each time, use a new, clean jar to put the beans in and cover with a napkin/paper towel as before.
White tails and split bodies on the beans indicate they’re ready. Repeat the straining/rinsing process a final time.
Place the mung bean sprouts on a baking sheet, topped with paper towels. Discard any beans that didn’t sprout and pat the rest dry with another paper towel.
Mung beans have a long shelf life, and there are a few ways you can store them.
If your beans are dried and not sprouted, they will last for a few years in an airtight container. Any place that’s cool, dry, and dark is ideal for bean storage.
Cooked or sprouted beans should last for three to five days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you put a damp paper towel at the bottom of the container, the beans will remain fresh.
The freezer option will make your beans last for three to six months. For dried and non-sprouted, that will add more years to them. Make sure they’re dry and that the freezer bag’s labeled!
Ideas for Recipes
The name of the beans may not ring familiar to some people unless you’re a big fan of stir fry. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed as full-fledged entrées on their own!
We recommend the following recipes as ways to become more acquainted with mung beans:
Growing Mung Beans
You’ve learned how to grow mung bean sprouts (indoor growing method). Now here’s what you need to know when growing them outdoors:
Before planting the seeds, make sure the soil is fertile and sandy with no clods. The soil should be about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and drain water easily.
Plant seeds an inch deep and two inches apart, with rows 30 to 36 inches apart.
Mung bean plants need about two to three inches of water per week. Water at the base of the plants so the soil is moist but not soggy.
These are warm-season crops, so your mung bean plants should grow when the days are long and hot. The more sunlight, the better they’ll grow.
Give the plants a small dose of low nitrogen food like 5-10-10 fertilizer for an extra boost to your leaves’ growth. If you used good compost for your soil, you don’t need fertilizer.
When to Harvest
The plants mature 100 days after planting. The pods should be five inches long.
Pull up the plants and hang them in your garage or shed. Lay some cloth or paper towels underneath them to catch the pods. After shelling, dry the beans off and start storing them.
Caring for Mung Bean Plants
It’s best to clear the soil of weeds before planting mung beans. Removing weeds after planting is an option, but be careful. It can be very easy to disturb or pull up the sprouts while weeding.
Managing Pests and Diseases
Pests like mealybugs, aphids, and bean flies can hurt mung bean plants by sucking up their sap. Besides the damage they do to the plants, they also spread diseases.
These are a few bean plant diseases to be aware of:
- mungbean yellow mosaic disease
- bean blight
You can treat these pests and diseases by spraying insecticidal soap or Neem Oil and removing infected areas.
With certain diseases, like mosaic diseases, there’s no treatment, and you have to remove the infected plants entirely. However, to prevent fungal diseases, avoid watering the leaves.
Where Can I Buy Them?
Whole Foods Market and other health food stores are a few local stores where you can find mung beans. If you’re shopping online, retailers like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon will have the beans.
True Leaf Market offers sprouted seeds, and they let you select the size of the packs. Botanical Interests is another retailer that has these sprouts if you’re looking to grow them.
Now You’re Ready to Enjoy Mung Beans!
Give mung beans a try for your next meal! Check out our beans plant page to learn more about other legumes you can enjoy in your meals!