While the mere mention of a mung bean usually conjures up images of a peace, love and lentil lifestyle, the history of the mung transcends way back to the antique diets of the East. Certainly, these spheres of jade did enjoy celebrity status during the 70s by providing a vehicle for many a hippie feast, but this was only testament to what the ancient healing cultures had been practising since.
The Ayurvedic principles laid down by the Maharishi Ayur-Veda celebrate a holistic approach to health and nutrition and consider the mung bean to be the most nourishing and digestible of all legumes. In Indian cuisine mung beans are usually blended with fragrant warming spices such as cumin and coriander seeds, which increase their thermal energy and enhance their subtle flavour.
Traditional Chinese Medicine states the healing properties of the mung bean to be highly detoxifying and cleansing. The Chinese revere them even more for their medicinal prowess than their culinary capacity especially in decreasing the levels of triglycerides from the blood, thus providing support for the body’s cardiovascular system and reduction of overall toxicity.
Mung beans have a cooling property when digested meaning they help to lower the temperature of our internal systems and are therefore beneficial for people who suffer from heat conditions such as sunburn, high blood pressure and eczema. They are best enjoyed as sprouts during the summer months to keep the body cool. It is also worth noting that consumption of the cooking juices from simmered beans can alleviate the effects of food poisoning.
As a member of the legume family, they can be very easily sprouted, yielding a crop ready to enjoy within a day or two. Like all other sprouted foods, the thriving nutrient value continues after harvest. The simple germination process can increase the vitamin C content by up to 600 times, supplying nearly half the recommended dietary intake in just one serve. Rich in protein, (especially the sulphur containing amino acid Methionine, which works as an antixoxidant), they can prevent excessive fat build-up in the liver and have an overall calming effect on the body. Just a cup of mung bean sprouts per day will provide the body with approximate 1 gram of vitamin B17, the recommended daily dose.
Vitamin B17 – also known as Laetrile and Amygdalin – is a contentious vitamin that is also found in the kernels of stone fruit, especially apricots. B17 contains one cyanide with two sugar and one benzaldehyde molecules forming a nitriloside compound. It is the molecule of cyanide that has attracted controversy due to its use in cancer therapy, and certain authorities argue its validity sighting possible cyanide toxicity. Nevertheless, there seems to be strong evidence suggesting its healing potential.
Once digested in the stomach by hydrochloric acid, the enzyme rhodanase catalyses the cyanide compound and renders it inactive. Cancer cells however, release the enzyme ß-glucosidase which catalyses the release of the cyanide and then has the potential to poison the cancer cells. The jury is still out on the merit of this vitamin and its use in the treatment of cancer has been banned in the US, yet there is evidence pointing in its favour and numerous healing clinics have been established in neighbouring areas such as Tijuana, Mexico, with very encouraging results.
Please seek medical advice before embarking on dramatic dietary changes.
Forever Mung – Recipes
Minted mung beans with ginger
200 grams biodynamic dried mung beans, picked over, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
1 tablespoon EV olive oil
4 shallots, peeled, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns (or pink or black), cracked
6 Kaffir lime leaves, stems removed, finely sliced
1 cup Vietnamese mint, washed, dried and finely minced
500 ml good vegetable stock
- Drain soaked mung beans, rinse and set aside.
- Heat oil in a deep, heavy based pot.
- Add shallots, garlic and ginger, and lightly fry until most of the oil has been absorbed.
- Continue to cook gently until the some of the oil has been released – about 3 minutes.
- Add the peppercorns, lime leave and mint and combine well. Add the drained mung beans and saute for a moment and then add the stock.
- Allow to simmer gently for about 45 minutes (pending on soaking time), until the stock has been absorbed and the beans are tender. Adjust seasoning if required.
- Serve alone or with a spoonful of tofu and mung bean whip.
Fresh tofu and mung bean whip
300 grams freshly sprouted mung beans
500 gram block fresh firm tofu
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 chilli, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, washed and dried
1/3 bunch English mint, washed and dried
2 limes, zest and juice of
pinch sea salt
cracked black pepper
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until just smooth and not completely pureed. Adjust seasoning if required.
- Serve with crudite and crackers or as a condiment to warm dishes.