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Mung beans, or what are known in India as dahl, were first domesticated in India in 1500 BC, and are the main ingredient in kitchari – the primary Ayurvedic superfood used to cleanse the body. It is no wonder that it became a staple in the Indian diet, being well-acquainted with this crop for all these years. And according to some modern research, this ancient bean is loaded with health benefits. The classic Ayurvedic kitchari cleanse uses only split yellow mung beans for many reasons. Let’s get to know this cleansing bean!
Perhaps the most exciting research suggests that two major mung bean flavonoids, vitexin and isovitexin were able to turn off one of the body’s major anti-aging switches called HMGB1 (High Mobility Group Box 1), which trigger the release of toxic and degenerative cytokines in the body. (9) In one study using animals, these mung bean flavonoids were so effective in blocking the HMGB1 protein that they helped increase blood poisoning survival rates by a whopping 82%. (10)
The Anti-Gas Bean
In another study, mung beans were found to be virtually free of any “flatulence factors,” suggesting that it may be the only bean that does not produce gas. (11) This is one of the reasons that this bean has been used for centuries for babies and convalescence. According to Ayurveda, it is the only bean classified as anti-vata or anti-gas. It is no surprise that Ayurveda chose this bean as the “cleansing bean” over all others.
Many More Mung Bean Benefits
- Packed with minerals – including magnesium – and phenols.
- Powerful antioxidant properties support heart health.
- Support healthy blood sugar levels.
- Produce the fatty acid butyrate in the gut, thus supporting the health of the intestinal wall.
- Support healthy weight loss and cravings by increasing the “I am full” hormone, cholecystokinin (CCK).
When certain types of cholesterol particles called LDLs are oxidized, they can damage the arterial walls as well as other tissues in the body. Mung beans have been found to be highly effective in blocking the oxidation of the LDL cholesterol particles due to the powerful antioxidant properties of their phenolic components. (1)
It is estimated that 7 out of 10 Americans are deficient in magnesium. (2) In one large study of more than 58,000 people, those with the lowest intake of magnesium had a 51% increased risk of dying from heart-related issues. (3) Mung beans are a great source of magnesium. (4)
As a naturally low glycemic index food, mung beans as part of a healthy diet have been shown to support healthy glucose, insulin and fat levels in the blood. (5) In animal studies, mung beans were also shown to block the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which wreak havoc on the body when blood sugar levels spike. (5)
Mung beans contain a high amount of insoluble fiber, which ferments in the gut to produce a fatty acid called butyrate – which is the primary constituent in ghee (a type of clarified butter central to Indian cuisine and Ayurveda). (6) The colon cells thrive on this fatty acid, and it is incredibly supportive to the health of the colon. (7)
Cravings and Weight
In one study, beans had a two-fold increase in the satiety (“I am full”) hormone CCK and supported healthy weight and less cravings. (8)
Kitchari: Why White Rice with Mung Beans?
Mung beans, or dahl, are the main ingredient in the famous Indian cleansing food, kitchari. In the recipe that is most commonly used in India, split yellow mung beans are used.
While it can be eaten anytime, it was not a staple in an Ayurvedic diet. It was a cleansing, medicinal food.
Kitchari is often the first food fed to babies in India, as well as the food used to tend to the sick and elderly. Traditionally, hours were spent hand-splitting the mung beans and de-husking the rice one grain at a time. The combination of a long grain white rice cooked properly with split yellow mung beans into a soupy consistency has a very low glycemic load. In Ayurveda, it is considered medicine for the skin of the intestinal tract where it supports the health of trillions of beneficial microbes.
Of course, while not cleansing, brown rice and other beans and legumes offer a host of other benefits. Bon Appétit!
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What has been your experience with mung beans? Share in the comments section below!
This article was originally published March 22, 2014. It was updated and republished September 15, 2015.