From an Ayurvedic perspective, mung beans have the following qualities…
Rasa: Sweet, Astringent
Qualities: Light, Dry
Actions on the doshas: Tridoshic, balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Action on the mind: Sattvic
Whole mung beans that have been soaked and then cooked are the most nourishing, the heaviest and therefore also slightly more difficult to digest. They also take the longest to cook – but they have the most prana… because they are still capable of sprouting. Chilka is a little lighter, cooks faster and doesn’t need to be soaked but still has a nice nourishing, wholemeal quality. Yellow mung is the lightest of all, the fastest to cook and the easiest to digest. Yellow mung is therefore best for any kind of fasting you may be doing.
What are its medicinal qualities?
It is quite rare to have food that is sweet, cooling and sweet… but also light. Mung has the special quality of being nourishing for the tissues and immune system (due to its sweetness) but also light and easy to digest. It is usually cooked with ghee (or other oil) to antidote its dry and astringent qualities. Mung’s sweet quality (both as its taste and post-digestive effect) has a calming, grounding effect on the mind/body but it is also considered Sattvic which means it helps to directly cultivate peace, clarity and contentment in the mind. In Ayurveda, mung is the queen of legumes! It is considered the lightest and easiest to digest, the least gas forming and it is one of only two beans with this Sattvic effect on the mind (the other being red lentils).
The Western viewpoint
From a western perspective, Mung beans are considered an alkaline food. Why? Because they have high quantities of predominantly alkaline minerals – calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. They are also rich in Vitamin C. They contain both carbohydrates and proteins as well as dietary fibre. They also have a low GI (glycemic index) of just 31 which means they offers a slow release of energy into the bloodstream due to the slow breakdown of carbohydrates (foods are considered to have a low GI if their value is less than 55, on a scale of 0-100). And…. if cooked with basmati rice or eaten with chappattis, you will have yourself a complete protein with all your essential amino acids….”