Mung beans are small green legumes. Legumes are seeds from the pods of plants in the Leguminosae family and also the Fabaceae family. When sprouted, they are usually just called bean sprouts. Like many other legumes, this bean can be eaten raw when sprouted, or else eaten cooked with the skin on or off. Unlike many other beans, it is quite easy on the digestive tract and doesn’t usually cause a gassy reaction.
Cooked mung beans can be delicious with spices and seasonings added to them. They can be used in soups and casseroles. They have been a part of Chinese cuisine for thousands of years and are called nga choi or nga choy. Egg rolls, stir-fries and many other Chinese dishes use mung sprouts. It's important not to overcook these beans as they take less than a minute to cook when stir frying. Nutrients are lost when overcooking occurs.
Mung sprouts may look grayish-yellow in color. To germinate the beans, soak them overnight and then allow them to sprout for a couple of days. The sprouting can increase their nutritional value and make them even easier on the digestive system. Bean sprouts are a good source of vitamin C and make a nutritious addition to sandwiches and salads.
Legumes such as mung beans are a popular alternative to meat for vegetarians and those on strict budgets since they pack a lot of protein for the price. They are also quite high in potassium, fiber, magnesium and B vitamins. They also make an excellent diet food since one cup (250 ml) of mung beans is less than 30 calories.
These beans are known for their sweet flavor and mung bean paste is used in some Asian countries to make frozen ice desserts. The paste is made from skinned, cooked and mashed beans. De-hulled mung beans are popular in soups as well as pancakes in some Asian countries. In India, deep fried mung beans are a snack food. In Indonesia, the bean's sweet flavor is enhanced by adding sugar, ginger and coconut milk and enjoyed as a snack.