Mung beans, also known as Lu Dou, are one of traditional soy foods consumed mainly in East Asia, especially by Japanese and Chinese. It has nearly 3 times as much protein as rice and it contains more vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and other inorganic salts, according to related reports. For this reason, it has amazing culinary and medicinal properties at the same time, which thus get it the fame as the “Cure-the-Sick Grain” in China. No wonder mung bean soup tends to be one of the favorite refreshing beverages in the scorching summer. In Asia, it is often used to make mung bean flour, cake, dessert, pancake, paste, etc. In China, people there like to eat mung bean noodles or mung bean sprouts, usually in the form of a salad or a fried dish.
What are mung beans?
Actually it means the dried seeds of Phaseolus radiatus L., a plant in the family Leguminosae. Other names of this bean include Green gram, Mung, Greensoy, Semen Phaseoli Radiati, Moong, Golden gram, Vigna radiata, Mash bean, Monggo, Green bean, and so on. It is produced in almost all the provinces of China. It is usually collected in autumn when the seeds are ripe. After the harvest, winnow out the impurities with a dustpan, wash clean, and dry in the sun. Medicinally it needs to be smashed or powdered before the use.
Mung bean plant is an erect or slightly twining annual herb, about 60cm in height. It is covered with short brown bristles. Ternately compound leaf is alternate; length of petiole is from 9 to 12cm; leaflets are 3, and the blade is from broadly ovate to rhombic-ovate; stipules are broadly ovate and stipels are linear. Racemes are axillary and peduncle is shorter than or as nearly long as the petiole; bracts are ovate or ovate-oblong, with long bristles; flowers are green yellow; calyx is bell-shaped and with 4 teeth; vexil is kidney-shaped; stamens are 10 and diadelphous; ovary is sessile and densely covered with long bristles. Pod is cylindrical, 6 to 8cm long, about 6mm wide, black when ripe, and sparsely covered with brown bristles. Mung bean seeds are oblong and green or dark green. Flowering time is from June to July and fruit season is in August.
Main chemical constituents are protein (mainly globulins), fat, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin A, B, C. Phospholipids contain phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl ethanolamine, phosphatidyl inositol, phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidic acid.
Mung beans benefits
Modern pharmacology of mung are reducing blood fat, lowering cholesterol, preventing allergies, inhibiting the growth and multiplication of microorganisms, suppressing tumor growth, increasing appetite, protecting liver and kidney, and so on. And here are the details of its top 10 health benefits.
1. Protein and phospholipids can excite nerves and increase appetite, which is necessary to increase the nutrition of many important organs;
2. Polysaccharide can enhance the activity of the serum lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and in turn promote the triglyceride hydrolysis in lipoprotein so that it obtains the lipid-lowering effect, which thus can prevent coronary heart disease and angina pectoris;
3. Antimicrobial ingredients like tannin can accelerate local hemostasis and promote wound healing;
4. It is a good raw source for extracting SOD, which has very good anti-aging effect;
5. It has inhibition on staphylococci and certain virus. That’s to say, it can clear heat and detoxify, which is really useful on treating acne caused by inflammation or endogenous heat;
6. One type of globulin and polysaccharide can promote animal’s cholesterol to break down into cholic acid in the liver, accelerate the secretion of bile salt in bile, and reduce the intestinal absorption of cholesterol;
7. According to clinical trials reported, its active ingredients are with anti-allergic effects, which can treat hives and other diseases;
8. It is rich in trypsin inhibitors, which can protect the liver, reduce protein breakdown, and thereby protect the kidneys.
9. Through experiments, it was found with some certain preventive effect on morphine + nitrite induced mouse lung and liver cancer;
10. It is so rich in protein that the fresh mung bean milk can protect the gastrointestinal mucosa if taken orally. In addition, its protein, proteins, tannins and flavonoids can combine with organophosphorus pesticides, mercury, arsenic, and lead compounds to form precipitate and thus reduce or totally get rid of their toxicity since they are difficult to the gastrointestinal absorption.
Selected mung bean recipes on herbal remedies
The Chinese Materia Medica believes that dried mung beans are sweet in flavor and cold in medicinal properties and it covers 3 meridians of stomach, intestine and liver. Chief functions are clearing heat, refreshing, removing pathogenic heat from the blood, and helping to detox. Usual mung beans medicinal uses and indications include polydipsia due to summer-heat, swollen sores and boils, erysipelas, burns, bruises, hematochezia, and intoxication. Recommended dosage is from 9 to 30 grams in decoction.
1. San Dou Yin from Shi Yi De Xiao Fang (Effective Formulas from Generations of Physicians). It joins hands with Chi Xiao Dou (Adzuki Beans), Hei Dou (black soya bean), and Gan Cao (Licorice Root) to prevent smallpox and measles.
2. Lu Dou Yin from Jing Yue Quan Shu (Jingyue’s Collected Writings). It is used alone to cook and make cold drink for the treatment of polydipsia, dark urine, and others due to hot summer weather.
3. Lu Dou Yin from Zheng Zhi Zhun Sheng (The Level-line of Patterns & Treatment). It is matched with Huang Lian (Coptis Root), Ge Gen (Kudzu Root), and Licorice to detoxify the people suffering from food poisoning or poisoning induced by aconite, croton, arsenic and other toxics.
4. Tuo Li Tang from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is coupled with Ru Xiang (Frankincense) to treat carbuncle on the back and vomiting and pain due to a number of pathogens attacking heart.
5. Lu Dou Yin from Huo You Xin Shu (The Heart Book of Pediatrics). It is formulated with Coptis, Kudzu, and Licorice to cure irritability, nausea, vomiting, or thirst due to eating medicine of hot nature by mistake.
Mung beans side effects and contraindications
So, how to cook mung beans to make full use of its nutrition while making it easy to digest? Actually the key is just to make it thoroughly cooked, but not mushy. The reason for doing so is twofold: keep the organic acids and vitamins as possible as you could, plus get rid of raw bean’s strong smell, which might lead to nausea and vomiting after consumption.
Though the nutritional value of green mung beans is very beneficial for the health, apparently it is not suitable for all because of its cold nature. Use it with care in the case of deficiency-cold in spleen and stomach. Otherwise, excessive consumption will cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, cold extremities, fatigue, cold pain in lower back and legs, and chronic gastritis and other digestive diseases. So do the patients with yin deficiency as large consumption of it will cause perleche, swollen gums, etc. And finally, last but not least, during medication, in particular the tonic of warm nature, stay away from this herb just in case it will reduce its efficacy.