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Green gram or mung beans have been grown since the ancient times in India with its use and cultivation dating back to the 1800s. Mung beans form a major part of the Indian cuisine and are consumed in most parts of Southeast Asia.

Think hot bowl of moong dal with rice and rotis or the prominent moong dal cheela or the delectable dosa. Savouring, right? Equally plausible are the numerous health benefits that you can derive from this pulse. Credit it to the rich protein and antioxidant content of the pulse. Don’t believe it? Well, mung bean is termed as the ‘queen of legumes’ in Ayurveda. Now, that must be because of a reason.

Vedics say that it is light and easy to digest while at the same time having calming and cooling effects on the body. But, are these benefits limited to Ayurvedic texts or is there some scientific research to support that? You will be delighted to know that several researchers have well studied the effects of this amazing lentil and the results have not been disappointing.

The benefits of this grain have been succinctly proven but you will have to read on to find that.

Some basic facts about the green gram

  • Scientific name: Vigna radiata
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Common name: Green gram, mung ki dal, moong dal, hari dal, moong beans
  • Sanskrit name: Mudga
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Mung bean is mainly cultivated in India and parts of Southeast Asia like China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Pakistan. Other than this, it is also utilised in the US but 75% of the utilised crop is imported.
    Mung bean is an annual crop grown in the warm seasons, which is cultivated in rotation with cereals. It is 60 to 75 cms tall and looks like a garden bean bearing pale yellow flowers towards the top of the plant. It requires sufficient rainfall and a fertile soil for optimal growth.
  • Parts used: Green grams can be used as whole moong beans or split moong beans, which are available in two types with skin attached called as the chhilka or without it. You can use any as per your liking. Whole moong beans are the most nutritious but harder to cook and would require a long soaking time.
  • Energetics: cooling
  1. Moong beans nutrition
  2. Moong beans benefits
  3. How to use green grams
  4. Side effects of moong dal

That appetising bowl of flavours is not just a palatable delight but is packed with a variety of nutrients, which have been described below:

Nutritional value of moong beans per 100 gm:

  • Calorific value- 334 kcal
  • Proteins- 24%
  • Fats- 1.3%
  • Carbohydrates- 57%
  • Calcium- 140 mg
  • Iron- 8.4 mg
  • Phosphorus- 280 mg
  • Vitamin B1- 0.5 mg
  • Vitamin B2- 0.4 mg
  • Niacin- 2 mg

Now you know that moong beans are packed with a host of nutrients and are admired for their nutritive value and health benefits. But what exactly these health benefits are? You may discover in this section.

Green grams for skin

Moong beans are loaded with proteins, polypeptides, polysaccharides and polyphenols, which possess strong antioxidant properties.

As we all know, free radicals have damaging effects on the body with major ones being on the skin, causing it to age more rapidly. Possessing an extra lone pair of electrons, free radicals are always in an active state to form a pair with body cells. This process of binding and reaction is what causes damage to skin and internal organs. By exhibiting antioxidant activities against a wide range of free radicals, moong beans are bound to diminish their actions.

This means that moong beans can help in reducing dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of ageing, leaving behind youthful and glowing skin.

In an aqueous state, the antioxidant properties of moong beans are enhanced by the release of MP1 and MP2, both having activities against different damaging components. MP1 has a strong reducing power against superoxide and DPHH radicals and also prevents the process of self-oxidation. MP2 has actions against hydroxyl radical.

Because these benefits are seen more in the aqueous state, it is advisable to eat a bowl of hot dal for these benefits rather than opting for its sprouted form.

Green gram powder for face

Since the antioxidant properties of green gram are commendable in an aqueous state, why not utilise these benefits directly for your face? Yes, you guessed that right, a green gram powder face mask is bound to provide its antioxidant benefits to your skin. Here is an easy recipe for green gram face mask:

  • Take a handful of green gram and blend it in a grinder to obtain a powder
  • Now add some rose water, sandalwood powder or Chandan powder and apply it on your face
  • Allow it to dry then rinse off with some cold water

This will leave behind youthful skin and will additionally help in removing a sun-tan giving you a natural glow.

Green gram for weight loss

Pulses are often consumed for their high protein content when desiring weight loss and green gram falls no behind. It is quite low in calories and is rich in fibres, which ensures that you stay full for long allowing you to eat less. Whether in the form of a bowl of steaming hot dal or a plate of sprouts, green gram has immense weight loss benefits and also helps in improving digestion.

Studies have found that moong dal assists in lipid metabolism in the body (breakdown of fats), which describes the possible mechanism of weight loss. Further, mung beans help in improving the overall metabolism of the body, which aids in achieving quicker weight loss effects.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Green gram for cholesterol

The phytosterols present in green gram assist the process of lipid peroxidation as confirmed by animal studies. A mixture of mung bean meal and sprouts led to a decrease in the total cholesterol, triglycerides and beta cholesterol levels. While this property of moong dal lacks confirmatory human evidence, it sure is a good idea to include moong beans in your diet. It is better to include both green grams in the form of dal and sprouts in your meals.

(Read more: High cholesterol treatment)

Green gram for diabetes control

Diabetes is a chronic condition characterised by a rise in blood glucose levels beyond normal limits. Since it is not completely treatable, those affected with diabetes are often looking forward to managing their symptoms and keep blood glucose levels under control. Moreover, type 2 diabetes can be prevented in individuals by taking care of diet and lifestyle factors.

Antidiabetic effects of mung bean extracts have been evidenced by several animal-based studies. In one study, ingestion of moong bean sprouts and seed coat significantly helped in lowering blood glucose levels over a 5-week period. This was achievable by an improvement in the glucose tolerance of the subjects and a stipulated increase in the levels of insulin (the hormone which functions to lower glucose levels in the body).

Not just this, ingestion of green gram also helped to lower postprandial blood glucose levels (blood sugar levels after a meal). So, it can be ascertained that green gram is a beneficial addition to the diet of diabetics. Just make sure you cook it with the seed coat.

Moong dal reduces hypertension

A chronic rise in blood pressure is not physiological and may be indicative of hypertension. Presenting no discernible symptoms of its own, hypertension is a strong risk factor for cardiac disorders and is thus a threat to the individual’s health. 

High doses of green grams in raw sprout forms have potential antihypertensive effects and helped in lowering of systolic blood pressure within a month. These effects were found to be better with fresh sprout extracts, which is why it is recommended to make moong sprouts at home (a recipe will be shared ahead).

Moong dal benefits for the heart

Diabetes, high cholesterol levels and hypertension are significant contributing factors to cardiac disorders. By having an effect against these, green gram helps in reducing the risk of heart disorders, as also confirmed by lab studies.

These studies found that mung bean and sprouts catered to an alleviation in the symptoms of coronary heart disease. This enables us to conclude that the addition of green gram to the diet has an overall cardioprotective effect.

Moong dal in fever

A rise in body temperature beyond 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is usually termed as a fever. While it is an inflammatory response of the body against disease agents, a fever is undeniably a discomforting symptom. Hot fluids are generally preferred in case of a fever to provide some comfort. While soups are an all-time favourite, is it likely that a bowl of moong dal can help?

Studies suggest that moong dal has significant anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, it has antimicrobial actions against a variety of infectious agents, which could be responsible for fever and a rise in body temperature.

Moong dal has been long used in folk remedies for the treatment of fever. This can be attributed to the cooling effects of moong beans on the body, which is why it is also used in the treatment of heat stroke. Further, moong beans have an immunomodulatory action, which helps in improving the potency of your immune system, protecting you from future infections.

Green gram for tumour prevention

Tumour refers to an abnormal mass of tissue, which may or may not be cancerous. Since some tumours have the potential to turn malignant, they need to be treated at the earliest.

Moong beans help in the suppression of tumours by several mechanisms. They have been found to have an action against melanoma tumours. Further, they have antiproliferative actions on several types of tumours. Trypsin inhibitors present in moong beans help to control the proliferation of human cancer cells. They also aid to prevent metastasis (an uncontrolled spread of cancerous cells).

While moong dal is not a promising treatment, it sure suggests that you add green gram to your diet. This may at the least aid in the preventing the spread of tumours to other sites.

Green grams can be used in a variety of ways, the simplest one involves cooking them like a dal but there are more nutritious and delectable ways of consuming this pulse. Here is a simple recipe to help you sprout these beans at home:

  • Clean green gram and wash with the help of water.
  • Rinse with warm water and soak for 8 hours.
  • Drain the next day.
  • Place in a clean cotton or muslin cloth forming a knot.
  • Keep this in a clean covered container and leave undisturbed in a warm, dark place.
  • Observe the next day.
  • If sprouts take longer than a day to show up, sprinkle some water.
  • You can store moong sprouts in a container and refrigerate to use over 2 to 3 days.

These sprouts can be eaten as such or as a salad or they can even be boiled or prepared as a vegetable to your taste.

Despite the many health benefits, every food is bound to have some side effects when taken in an excess. While consumption in the form of a cooked dal is completely safe, it may have some side effects when taken as sprouts.

Some individuals may find it hard to digest raw sprouts causing digestive problems and abdominal discomfort. They must avoid consuming sprouts.

Another serious concern when consuming sprouts is the risk of food poisoning and infections. Since raw sprouts are grown in a warm and moist environment, which is ideal for the growth of infectious agents, their consumption may be unsafe. It is recommended to always store them in a refrigerator and not consume in excess to avoid any side effects.

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References

  1. Tang D, Dong Y, Ren H, Li L, He C. A review of phytochemistry, metabolite changes, and medicinal uses of the common food mung bean and its sprouts (Vigna radiata). 2014 Jan 17;8(1):4. PMID: 24438453
  2. Ministry of agriculture. Post harvest profile of green gram. Department of agriculture and cooperation; Government of India
  3. Department of agriculture, forestry & fisheries. Mung bean. Republic of South Africa
  4. Zhu Yi-Shen, Sun Shuai, and Richard FitzGerald. Mung bean proteins and peptides: nutritional, functional and bioactive properties. 2018; 62: 10.29219/fnr.v62.1290. PMID: 29545737
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