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17 Fascinating Facts About the Modest Mung Bean

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The mung bean, also known as the green gram, golden gram, or moong bean, is a humble legume of the species Vigna radiata. These beans may be small, but they pack a nutritious punch and have an intriguing history.

Introduction

Mung beans have been cultivated in India for over 3,500 years. Today, they are grown across tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and consumed around the world. Though the mung bean is often overlooked in favor of more popular legumes like soybeans, they deserve more recognition for their versatility, flavor, and health benefits.

Below are 17 fascinating tidbits to help you appreciate the incredible mung bean!

dried mung beans
dried mung beans

Nutrition

The mung bean may be tiny, but it delivers ample nutrients in its small green package.

  1. Mung beans are rich in protein and fiber. One cup of cooked mung beans contains 14 grams of fiber and 15 grams of plant-based protein. The protein in mung beans has a stellar amino acid profile as well.
  2. They are packed with folate. A single cup delivers 90% of the recommended daily intake for folate, an essential B vitamin. Folate is vital for DNA synthesis and preventing birth defects.
  3. Mung beans contain antioxidants too. Studies show that mung beans harbor various antioxidant compounds linked to reduced inflammation and chronic disease risk.

Culinary Uses

Mung beans are a versatile ingredient used across cuisines. Their mild flavor allows them to be transformed into sweet and savory dishes alike.

  1. They are the key ingredient in desserts. Mung bean paste gives classic Chinese mooncakes their soft, pudding-like texture. In India, mung beans are ground into a batter to make sweets like gulab jamun.
  2. Bean sprouts served across Chinese cuisine are usually sprouted mung beans. Mung bean sprouts retain the legume’s nutritional content but have a crunchy, slightly sweet flavor profile.
  3. Mung bean noodles are common in Korean, Chinese, and Southeast Asian fare. Also called glass noodles or cellophane noodles, they are made from starchy mung bean starch.

Ayurvedic Medicine

yellow beans on white surface

Mung beans have been prized in India’s traditional medicinal system, Ayurveda, for ages.

  1. In Sanskrit, mung beans are known as “mudga.” Mudga is regarded as one of the most essential foods for balancing the body’s health.
  2. Ayurveda considers mung beans one of the easiest legumes to digest. Their astringent qualities also help regulate appetite and clear toxins.
  3. Mung bean soup is an age-old Ayurvedic remedy. This light, nutritious soup balances all three Ayurvedic doshas and gently detoxifies the body.

Agriculture

Mung beans have adapted well to hot climates and play vital roles in crop rotations.

  1. They thrive in dry, hot environments. Mung beans can grow in drought-like conditions of 100°F heat where other legumes would perish.
  2. As a short-season crop, they fit multiple harvests per growing season. Farmers across Asia plant mung beans as a fast-growing cash crop between rice harvests.
  3. Mung beans enrich soil through nitrogen fixation. With the help of symbiotic bacteria, mung beans convert atmospheric nitrogen into compounds that nourish plants. Rotating mung beans with cereals boosts subsequent yields.

Sustainability

The modest mung bean offers solutions for sustainable nutrition and environmental restoration.

  1. Mung bean crops require few chemical inputs. They rarely need pesticides or commercial fertilizers to grow successfully.
  2. The beans regenerate degraded farmlands. Planting mung beans reintroduces organic matter and lost nutrients to worn-out soils caused by exploitative farming.
  3. Mung bean protein production demands less water than meat. One kilogram of mung bean protein needs 43 times less water than an equal amount of beef protein. Replacing meat with mung beans would conserve water.

Fun Facts

  1. Mung bean sprouts can grow over an inch per day, making them one of the fastest-growing plants.
  2. 2020 was declared the “International Year of Plant Health” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, choosing the mung bean as its mascot.

Conclusion

While they don’t attract the same attention as trendier superfoods, mung beans have quietly nourished civilizations for millennia. These humble legumes continue providing balanced, plant-based nutrition to billions today. With luck, the international spotlight on the mung bean in 2020 shed more light on this worthy staple!


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