Let’s Talk About Mung Bean Protein

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More and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of consuming optimum amounts of protein:  

  • Protein is the building block for hormones, enzymes, muscles, cartilage, skin and bones.
  • Protein helps promote feeling satisfied with meals.
  • Protein foods contain a wide variety of minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals. 

There are a variety of foods that are good sources of protein: meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, cheese, yogurt (especially Greek yogurt with twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt), nuts, seeds, legumes (dried beans and peas like lentils, chickpeas, and red beans) and soy foods.

One of the newer sources of plant protein on the scene comes from mung beans. You can find this type of protein added to foods such as protein shakes, energy bars, vegan dairy substitutes, and meat alternatives like the Beyond Burger and Chicken-Free Chicken.

What is Mung Bean Protein?

The mung bean is a type of legume that was originally grown in India over 2000 years ago. It’s found throughout Southeast Asia as a primary protein source where animal meat is expensive and not easily available.

Raw, mature mung beans are de-hulled and milled to make a flour, which is then mixed with water to form a slurry. Next, the protein extract is removed from the slurry, then pasteurized and dried to form mung bean protein isolate. 

Why Use Mung Bean Protein Isolate?

Researchers have discovered that mung bean protein isolate is a source of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor activity that helps to lower blood pressure. It also carries out anti-fungal and antibacterial activity that is important for food safety and preservation, and trypsin inhibitory activity that has an influence on satiety. In 2016, the FDA granted mung bean protein isolate GRAS status (generally recognized as safe) in levels from 3-90% in foods including cereal, granola bars, crackers, protein powders and drinks, non-dairy foods (such as vegan cheese, vegan yogurt and vegan ice cream), pasta, vegan egg products, snack chips, and meat analogues. 

Mung Bean Protein Safety:

If you have a soy allergy, you could be allergic to mung beans, too, as they both belong to the legume family and can be cross-reactive. 

Our Views on Mung Bean Protein:

When purchasing foods, it’s essential to review not only the nutrition facts, but also the list of ingredients so that you know exactly what you’re buying. Plant sources of protein come in many forms, and some may contain more sodium, added sugars, or flavorings than you realize. Plant-based proteins offer a variety of health benefits and can be a great-tasting addition to your usual food choices. 

By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES, CPT, CHWC

References:

  1. USDA. MyPlate. Protein foods. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/protein-foods accessed 8-10-22.
  2. Fuji Europe Africa BV. Mung Bean Protein Isolate. https://fujieuropeafrica.com/our-plant-based-solutions/mung-bean-protein-isolate/  accessed 8-10-22.
  3. Brishti, F.H., Zarei, M., Muhammad, S.K.S., Ismail-Fitry, M.R., Shukri, R. and Saari, N. Evaluation of the functional properties of mung bean protein isolate for development of textured vegetable protein. International Food Research Journal 24(4): 1595-1605 (August 2017)
  4. Michigan State University. Center for Research on Ingredient Safety. Trending – Mung Bean Protein. Elisabeth AndersonJinpeng Li. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/trending-mung-bean-protein published 5-17-21; accessed 8-10-22. 
  5. Herman LL, Padala SA, Ahmed I, et al. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACEI) [Updated 2022 Jul 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK431051/
  6. Cristina Oliveira de Lima V, Piuvezam G, Leal Lima Maciel B, Heloneida de Araújo Morais A. Trypsin inhibitors: promising candidate satietogenic proteins as complementary treatment for obesity and metabolic disorders? J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem. 2019 Dec;34(1):405-419. doi: 10.1080/14756366.2018.1542387. PMID: 30734596; PMCID: PMC6327991.
  7. Office of Food Additive Safety Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Food and Drug Administration. GRAS Notice #684. Mung Bean Protein Isolate. https://www.fda.gov/media/103224/download#:~:text=The%20mung%20bean%20protein%20isolate,w%20of%20the%20final%20product. Published 12-15-16; accessed 8-10-22.
  8. Cleveland Clinic. Everything You Should Know about Pea Protein. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/pea-protein/#:~:text=Pea%20protein%20isolate%3A%20One%20of,your%20diet%2C%E2%80%9D%20says%20DiMarino. Published 11-26-21’ accessed 8-11-22.
  9. Ge J, Sun CX, Corke H, Gul K, Gan RY, Fang Y. The health benefits, functional properties, modifications, and applications of pea (Pisum sativum L.) protein: Current status, challenges, and perspectives. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2020 Jul;19(4):1835-1876. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12573. Epub 2020 Jun 22. PMID: 33337084.
  10. Office of Food Additive Safety Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Food and Drug Administration. GRAS Notice #804. Pea Protein GRAS Notice. https://www.fda.gov/media/133594/download. Posted 6-18-18; accessed 8-12-22.
  11. Healthline. Pea Protein Powder: Nutrition, Benefits and Side Effects. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pea-protein-powder. Accessed 8-12-22.
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