Health Benefits of Green Grams (Ndengu)

Green grams, locally known as ndengu, are also known by other names such as mung beans and moong beans. Green grams are beans, which means they belong to the family of legumes that includes other common beans like kidney beans (madondo), black beans (njahi) etc.

green grams (ndengu)
Green Grams (Ndengu)

Compared to these other beans, they are much smaller, but that’s not to mean they’re not just as nutritious. Green grams, like most of these other pulses, are not only low in calories and fat, but also happen to be good sources of protein, fibre and minerals.


Nutrient Content of Green Grams

Some of the nutrients found in significant quantities in green grams include: (per 100 grams of cooked (boiled) mature green grams)

  • Dietary fibre – 7.6 g
  • Protein – 7.02 g
  • Thiamine (B1) – 0.164 mg
  • Riboflavin (B2) – 0.061 mg
  • Niacin (B3) – 0.577 mg
  • Pantothenic acid (B5) – 0.41 mg
  • Vitamin (B6) – 0.067 mg
  • Folate (B9) – 159 μg
  • Calcium – 27 mg
  • Iron – 1.4 mg
  • Magnesium – 48 mg
  • Manganese – 0.298 mg
  • Phosphorus – 99 mg
  • Potassium – 266 mg
  • Zinc – 0.84 mg

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference1


Health Benefits


1. Good Source of Healthy Affordable Protein

Green grams can be a good alternative source of protein for those that can’t afford meat protein or vegeterians. 100g of boiled green grams provide 7.6g of protein, a moderate amount that can help you meet your recommend daily intake (0.8g per kilogram of body weight).1

Though much less compared to what meat can provide, protein from green grams and other plant sources, is lean meaning it’s doesn’t contain saturated fat which can be found in fatty cuts of meat.

2. Good for Weight Management

Green grams are low in calories and fat providing just 105kcal and 0.38g respectively per 100g of cooked (boiled) mature green grams.1 This is due to their complex carbs and fibre which alos makes them slow to digest.

As a result, they release energy much slowly increasing the feeling of fullness. For this reason they are ideal for those watching their weight. What’s more, as we’ve seen it provides lean protein which doesn’t contain fat as that from most fatty meats like beef.

3. Good Source of Dietary Fibre

Green grams provide moderate amounts of dietary fibre (7.6g/100g) which is key for a healthy digestive system as it increases the stool volume and transit time. The fibre also binds toxins and cholesterol aiding their removal form the body and thereby lowering blood cholesterol which reduces the risk of one getting cardiovascular diseases.

4. Rich source of Folate

Green grams are quite rich in folate providing about 40% (159 μg/100g) of the recommended daily intake.1 Folate is a very important nutrient especially during pregnancy. It helps prevent cases of neural tube defects (e.g. spinal bifida) and also ensures optimal development of tissues and cells.

This is the key reason why pregnant women are supplemented with folate during pregnancy as they have to cater for the increased need of folate. Green grams can therefore be good additions to the diets of pregnant and lactating women to help them get adequate folate.

5. Good Source of Iron

Green grams like most pulses are good sources of iron, an essential mineral which aids the body to transport oxygen, boost energy production and metabolism. Iron is also important to prevent iron deficiency anaemia, which is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide.

To increase availability of this iron for absorption, it’s recommended you eat irom rich foods, not just green grams, along with foods rich in Vitamin C which can be found in most fruits (citrus) and greens.

6. Good Source of Other Minerals

Green grams are not only good sources of iron but other essential minerals including magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, potassium and phosphorus. Eating them can therefore ensure you get your daily dose of this minerals which are vital for the normal functioning of the body.

Getting the most out of your Green Grams

Like most pulses, green grams are also suspect to anti-nutrients which affect the absorption of most of the minerals we’ve highlighted above. To some they may also cause flatulence and heart burn, prompting them to avoid eating them for good.

To ensure you get the most out of your green grams, there are certain things you can do to avoid some of these issues which you can read on in our article on pulses.


1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference – Mung beans, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt


Kelvin Muriuki is the founder and editor of the Nutrition Point blog. He's a trained clinical nutritionist with a BSc in Food Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Nairobi.

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