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Chinese Bean May Hold Promise Against Life-Threatening Infection

Mung Bean, Complementary Medicine, Sepsis

The mung bean has been traditionally used in China as both a nutritional food and as herbal medicine. Here in the US, we are most familiar with the sprouts, which are typically stir-fried and used as an accompaniment to our Asian dishes. Researchers with The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have discovered that mung bean extract is protective against a life-threatening infection known as sepsis.

Sepsis is an overwhelming systemic inflammatory response to a severe infection or injury which can lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death if not treated promptly. Sepsis affects approximately 750,000 Americans each year, 28 to 50% of whom die from the condition and costing the healthcare system nearly $17 billion annually.

The coating of the mung bean has been found to contain anti-inflammatory properties which neutralizes a protein known as HMGB1. Compounds that can neutralize HMGB1 may protect against the damage and tissue injury caused by conditions such as arthritis, ischemia, and sepsis.

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"Many traditional medicinal herbs have been successfully developed into effective therapies for various inflammatory ailments, and now we have validated the therapeutic potential of another medicinal product, mung bean extract," said Dr. Haichao Wang PhD, who led research using mung bean extract on septic mice. His study found that the protection provided from the compound related to an increased survival rate from 29 to 70%.

Will the benefits also apply to humans? Hopefully we will know soon. Until then, the mung bean is a great addition to the diet as they are low in saturated fat and sodium and a good source of protein, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium and fiber. Try these ideas, offered by Whole Foods Market:

• Use them in place of or along with split peas or lentils in a recipe.
• Use them in soups or stews. (Dr. Oz offers a recipe on his website for Green Mung Bean Soup)
• Serve cooked mung and/or mung bean sprouts over rice or noodles.
• Serve sprouted mung beans in a variety of salads. Cook mung beans until just tender (Don’t overcook!). Toss with chopped cucumber, carrots, celery, radish and your favorite salad dressing.
• Make them into bean burgers.
• Cook them with flavorful, colorful veggies and aromatics such as garlic, onion, ginger, chives, leeks, carrots and multi-colored peppers.
• Add the sprouts to just about any Asian dish.
• Cook with Basmati rice and spices for a more traditional Indian-style meal.
• Mash well cooked beans and use as a thickener in soups, sauces and gravies.
• Serve cooked mung beans as a side dish to chicken, tofu or tempeh.
• Add cooked mung beans to your favorite pasta sauce.

Journal Reference:
Haichao Wang et al. It Is Not Just Folklore: The Aqueous Extract of Mung Bean Coat Is Protective against Sepsis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM). Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 498467, doi:10.1155/2012/498467