Mung Bean

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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a pile of raw mung beans ready to be prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat mung beans?

Mung beans may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.

Where do mung beans come from?

Mung beans were first domesticated and cultivated in South Asia thousands of years ago. Small and green, the mighty mung bean is also known as green gram, maash, moong, or munggo. Mung bean comes in many forms: it can be hulled and split (a form known as moong dal), ground into a paste to use in mooncakes and other sweets, milled into flour for dosa or bindae-tteok, or cooked whole in curries, pilafs, and stews. This kitchen staple is also used to make bean sprouts that add delicious crunch and juice to salads and stir-fries.

Sebastián, 14 months, eats mung beans two ways: mashed on a thin rice cake and whole, cooked beans.

Are mung beans healthy for babies?

Yes. Mung beans are an excellent source of fiber, carbohydrates, and protein to help support baby’s developing gut microbiome and fuel growth and development. They are also a great source of zinc and folate, which support immune function and neurodevelopment. Lastly, mung beans are rich in antioxidants to support the body’s resilience.

Mung bean paste is typically high in sugar, so try to hold off on serving to children until the second birthday.

Mung bean starch is also used to make thread noodles, also known as glass noodles, which are typically rich in carbohydrates, but have limited protein, fiber, and zinc, compared to the whole version of mung bean.

Are mung beans a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Mung beans are a choking hazard due to their small size and rounded shape especially when raw or undercooked. To reduce the risk, cook until soft, and mash beans into a paste or flatten each bean before serving. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Are mung beans a common allergen?

No. Mung beans are not a common allergen, though allergies to mung beans have been reported.

Bean allergies have also been reported in some patients with allergies to other legumes, including peanut and soybean (which are common food allergens). However, being allergic to one type of legume does not necessarily mean that an individual will be allergic to others, although the risk of having more than one legume allergy can increase.1 Fortunately, most individuals with peanut or soy allergy are able to tolerate other legumes just fine.2

Individuals with allergies to birch tree pollen and/or Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen-food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to legumes, such as mung beans.3 4 5 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

When can babies eat mung bean sprouts?

As long as the sprouts have been thoroughly cooked, babies can have mung bean sprouts starting at 9 months of age, when they can pick them up independently and self-feed. (Canned sprouts have already been cooked and do not need to be cooked again.)

Babies should not have raw bean sprouts, whether they are bought fresh at the store or sprouted at home, as they are considered a very high-risk food for foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella and E. coli.6 The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that raw sprouts should be avoided in immunocompromised individuals, as well as individuals with developing immune systems, including children under the age of 5.7 Fortunately, thoroughly cooking bean sprouts significantly reduces the risk of foodborne illness.

When buying fresh bean sprouts, make sure they are fresh, crisp, and cold. They should not appear limp, brown, or slimy. Store immediately in the fridge and use proper food safety practices, such as hand washing and avoiding shared cutting boards.

Can babies have canned mung beans?

Yes, but read the label before purchasing. Some canned mung bean products have added sugar, which is best reserved until the second birthday, or salt, which should be minimized in infant diets. Look for mung beans marked “no salt added” or “low sodium” and opt for cans marked “BPA-free,” when available. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to line the interior of some food containers, and studies show that frequent exposure can affect baby’s neurological development.8 9

Are the lectins in mung beans safe for babies?

Yes. Often called anti-nutrients, these naturally-occurring plant compounds (including lectins, oxalates, and phytates) break down during the soaking and cooking process and are generally harmless in healthy people when consumed as part of a balanced diet.10 11 12 Lectins and oxalates can even offer health benefits, such as antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.13 14

Do mung beans need to be soaked before cooking?

No, but soaking them in water prior to cooking can reduce cooking time, reduce the levels of lectin and of a gas-producing carbohydrate, raffinose, and help make the bean and its key nutrients more easily digestible.15 16 17 18

Here are a couple of soaking methods:

  • Overnight soak: Use a ratio of 1 lb (454 g) of dried beans and 10 c (2 ½ liter) water, and soak the beans in water for 4 or more hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans prior to cooking.
  • Hot soak method: Use a ratio of 1 lb (454 g) of dried beans and 10 c (2 ½ liter) water, and bring the mixture to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, then soak for a few hours. Drain and rinse the beans prior to cooking.

Can mung beans help babies poop?

Yes. The high levels of fiber and resistant starches in mung beans interact with certain bacteria in the gut, resulting in gas, helping move poop along, and contributing to a diverse ecosystem in the digestive tract.19 To minimize digestive discomfort, introduce high-fiber foods like mung beans gradually and regularly in baby’s diet as tolerated.20 Remember that pooping patterns can vary significantly from baby to baby. If you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function, talk to your pediatric healthcare provider.

How do you prepare mung beans for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 8 months old: Blend cooked mung beans into a smooth paste or dal that baby can practice scooping. To add even more nutrition, stir in breast milk, formula, olive oil, or yogurt. When introducing beans, start with a small amount and gradually increase portion sizes to minimize any digestive discomfort. Let baby self-feed by scooping dal or paste, and if help is needed, offer a pre-loaded spoon and let baby grab it from you. Alternatively, use mung bean flour to make dosa, idli, or pancakes to share with baby. Try to hold off on serving sweetened mung bean paste until baby is older, ideally after the second birthday.

9 to 11 months old: Continue serving mung beans on scoopable foods and letting baby self-feed with hands or a pre-loaded spoon. Babies with a developing pincer grasp (where the thumb meets the pointer finger) may enjoy trying to pick up cooked mung beans on their own, but this may cause frustration as the beans are quite small. Flattening mung beans with the back of a fork or forming them into a ball can help babies at this age self-feed. Alternatively, tear dosa, idli, or pancakes made with mung bean flour into bite-sized pieces. At this age, you can also serve cooked mung bean sprouts, but know that their texture may cause some harmless gagging. Of course, you may continue serving dal or pureed mung beans.

12 to 24 months old: Continue offering cooked mung beans and mung bean sprouts on their own or part of a dish like curry or salad. While you can offer a utensil for the toddler to practice with, mung beans may be tricky to pick up with a utensil until the child is older, so feel free to continue mashing or forming mung beans into balls as well.

24 months and up: Serve and cook with mung beans and cooked sprouts as desired, and at this age, feel free to serve foods with sweetened mung bean paste in moderation.

Get recipe ideas for the whole family from our guide 100 Dinners for Babies & Toddlers.

Recipe: Coconut Mung Beans

Yield: 2 c (480 ml)
Cook Time: 1 hour
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

This recipe contains a common allergen: coconut (milk). While coconut allergy is rare, it is classified as a tree nut by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Directions

  1. If you have time, soak the beans for 4 hours or overnight prior to cooking. It’s okay to skip this step, though it speeds up cook time and aids digestion.
  2. Place the beans, coconut milk, and 1 ½ c (360 ml) of water or stock in a pot.
  3. Peel and shred the carrot into the pot.
  4. Add the ginger. Feel free to use your favorite spices.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook partially covered until the beans are soft and falling apart. This can take between 30 minutes and 1 hour depending on the age of the bean.
  6. Season the beans with lime juice, whose vitamin C helps the body absorb plant-based iron in the beans. Mash any remaining whole beans before serving.

Serve the Beans

  1. Serve the mashed beans to baby, then let the child self-feed.
  2. If help is needed, swipe a teething rusk or resistive food in the mash, then hold it in the air in front of baby and let the child grab it from you.

To Store: Coconut Mung Beans keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.

Flavor Pairings

Mung beans pair well with bell pepper, carrot, coconut, potato, rice, and tomato.

Reviewed by

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

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  2. Bublin, M., & Breiteneder, H. (2014). Cross-reactivity of peanut allergens. Current allergy and asthma reports, 14(4), 426. DOI: 10.1007/s11882-014-0426-8. Retrieved March 14, 2022
  3. Kashyap, R.R., Kashyap, R.S. (2015). Oral Allergy Syndrome: An Update for Stomatologists. Journal of allergy, 2015, 543928. DOI:10.1155/2015/543928. Retrieved September 16, 2022
  4. National Health Service. Oral allergy syndrome. Retrieved September 16, 2022
  5. Guhsl, E. E., Hofstetter, G., Hemmer, W., Ebner, C., Vieths, S., Vogel, L., Breiteneder, H., & Radauer, C. (2014). Vig r 6, the cytokinin-specific binding protein from mung bean (Vigna radiata) sprouts, cross-reacts with Bet v 1-related allergens and binds IgE from birch pollen allergic patients’ sera. Molecular nutrition & food research, 58(3), 625–634. DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201300153. Retrieved September 16, 2022
  6. Newgent, J. (2021). Are sprouts safe to eat. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved September 16, 2022
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advice to consumers and retailers. Retrieved September 16, 2022
  8. Mustieles, V., & Fernández, M. F. (2020). Bisphenol A shapes children’s brain and behavior: towards an integrated neurotoxicity assessment including human data. Environmental health : a global access science source, 19(1), 66. DOI: 10.1186/s12940-020-00620-y. Retrieved March 14, 2022
  9. Rochester, J. R., & Bolden, A. L. (2015). Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes. Environmental health perspectives, 123(7), 643–650. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1408989. Retrieved March 14, 2022
  10. Singh, B., Singh, J. P., Shevkani, K., Singh, N., & Kaur, A. (2017). Bioactive constituents in pulses and their health benefits. Journal of food science and technology, 54(4), 858–870. DOI: 10.1007/s13197-016-2391-9. Retrieved September 16, 2022
  11. Deol, J. K., Bains, K. (2010). Effect of household cooking methods on nutritional and anti nutritional factors in green cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) pods. Journal of food science and technology, 47(5), 579–581. DOI:10.1007/s13197-010-0112-3. Retrieved August 4, 2022
  12. Chitra, U., Singh, U., Rao, P.V. (1996). Phytic acid, in vitro protein digestibility, dietary fiber, and minerals of pulses as influenced by processing methods. Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 49(4), 307–316. DOI:10.1007/BF01091980. Retrieved August 4, 2022
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  14. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Are Anti-Nutrients Harmful? Retrieved August 4, 2022
  15. Queiroz Kda S, de Oliveira AC, Helbig E, Reis SM, Carraro F. Soaking the common bean in a domestic preparation reduced the contents of raffinose-type oligosaccharides but did not interfere with nutritive value. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2002 Aug;48(4):283-9. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.48.283. Retrieved September 16, 2022
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  19. Singh, B., Singh, J. P., Shevkani, K., Singh, N., & Kaur, A. (2017). Bioactive constituents in pulses and their health benefits. Journal of food science and technology, 54(4), 858–870. DOI: 10.1007/s13197-016-2391-9. Retrieved September 16, 2022
  20. Quagliani, D., & Felt-Gunderson, P. (2016). Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 11(1), 80–85. DOI: 10.1177/1559827615588079. Retrieved September 16, 2022