- Archeological evidence suggests that mung beans (Vigna radiata) were domesticated in India as early as 1500 BC before spreading throughout Asia and finally to the United States. Their medicinal properties, such as protection against heat stroke, and high nutritional content have been valued for centuries. These tiny, oval-shaped beans are available in several forms, with the peeled spilt version popular in Indian dishes, and the processed version of bean sprouts and starch noodles more common in Asian cuisine. Although mung beans have been cultivated in America since the 1830s, 75% of the 15-20 million pounds of mung beans consumed in the US each year are imported.
- Combating Heart Disease:Oxidized LDL cholesterol is one of the most powerful predictors of future cardiovascular events. It accumulates within the endothelium (inner lining of blood vessels) and triggers a series of inflammatory events that result in the formation of foam cells, a key factor in the early development of arterial plaque. In a study published in the journal Human and Experimental Toxicology, scientists discovered that mung beans are highly effective at inhibiting LDL oxidation due to their potent free-radical scavenging properties.
- The versatile mung bean has also been shown to target another significant cardiovascular disease risk factor in high blood pressure. Hypertensive rats supplemented with mung bean sprout extracts for one month experienced significant reductions in systolic blood pressure.5 This antihypertensive effect might be related to mung bean’s high concentration of protein fragments known as peptides, which act to reduce the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) that constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure.
- Magnesium deficiency is widespread among Americans, with an estimated nearly seven out of 10 adults consuming less than the recommended daily allowance (RDA). This is alarming data since a recent study involving more than 58,000 men and women aged 40-79 revealed that those with the lowest intakes of dietary magnesium had a 51% increased risk of heart disease mortality, compared to those with the highest intakes. Replacing processed foods with magnesium-rich ones like mung beans is a simple strategy for improving your magnesium status and averting cardiovascular and other health consequences.
- Controlling Diabetes: Low-Glycemic Index foods are ideal for people with type II diabetes, since they cause a small, slow rise in postprandial (after-meal) blood glucose levels. This prevents dangerous rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin that impair vascular health and increase cardiovascular disease. When human volunteers ate a 50-gram portion of low-glycemic beans like mung beans, they exhibited a 45% lower glucose response than when they ate an equivalent amount of other carbohydrate foods, such as grains, breads, pasta, and breakfast cereals. Other research shows that adding beans to a meal with a high-glycemic food lowered overall postprandial glucose response in individuals with type II diabetes.
- In a study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, type II diabetic mice supplemented with mung bean extract daily for five weeks resulted in significant reductions in blood glucose levels and plasma C-peptide, an indicator of insulin release, thereby producing measurable improvements in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Researchers also noted that elevated triglycerides, a common lipid abnormality among type II diabetics, were also significantly decreased.
- Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) form as the result of the chemical reaction between glucose and proteins in the body. These dysfunctional molecules damage tissue in the kidneys and retina, which accelerates the diabetic complications of kidney dysfunction and blindness. When Chinese researchers analyzed the AGE inhibition activity of sixteen legumes, mung beans ranked second only to the common bean.13 This positive effect is believed to be attributed to their two main constituents, vitexin and isovitexin.
- Anti-Cancer Effects: A recent study reported in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that mung beans suppress the growth of human liver and highly aggressive cervical cancer lines through multiple mechanisms, including cytotoxicity, inducing anti-cancer cytokines, halting cancer cell cycle, and triggering apoptosis (programmed cell death).
- These beneficial modes of action might be responsible for mung bean’s protection against other cancers as well. Korean researchers compared dietary factors in 213 stomach cancer patients with an equal number of controls. Those who consumed a modest amount of mung bean pancakes daily exhibited a lower risk of stomach cancer.
- Harvard School of Public Health researchers studied the relationship between phenolic-rich foods and the risk of breast cancer, one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among American women.17 They reported that consuming beans like mung beans at least twice per week slashed breast cancer risk by 24%.
- Mung beans contain a high amount of insoluble fiber and resistant starch, which undergo bacterial fermentation in the large intestine to produce butyrate. This short-chain fatty acid provides substantial protection against colon cancer by inhibiting DNA damage and cutting off the blood supply tumors require for growth. In one study, daily bean intake was associated with an up to 42% reduction in colon cancer risk after researchers adjusted for several potential confounding factors including age and gender.
- Obesity Fighter: The one-two punch of fiber and protein makes mung beans one of the most effective dietary foods to combat obesity and enhance weight loss. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers observed that a single test meal with high-fiber beans produced a two-fold greater increase in the satiety hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), compared to a control test meal without beans.
- To investigate whether this short-term satiety effect translates into reduced food intake and weight loss in the long-term, scientists conducted a randomized controlled trial in 173 obese men and women. Subjects were assigned to a high-fiber, bean-rich diet containing 1.5 cups of beans daily or a low-carbohydrate diet for 16 weeks. Both groups did not restrict calories intentionally. At the end of the intervention period, the bean group decreased its body weight by over 9 pounds on average, results that were similar to the low-carbohydrate diet group.
Source: Gamonski, William; “The Mighty Mung Bean”, January 2014, www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2014/1/The-Mighty-Mung-Bean/Page-01