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The superfood you never knew

MANILA, Philippines — Lining the aisles of the “Imported” section of select supermarkets are the big guns of health produce: all-natural chia seeds, organic kale and sustainably cultivated quinoa. Three of the most popular current crop of “superfoods”, they are championed for their higher-than-average amounts of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. Not to mention that they come with an equally super price tag.

While health buffs make a bee line for these superfood, what they don’t realize is that there are plenty of local fruits, vegetables and legumes that also qualify as superfood (Read: Affordable superfoods in PH). In particular, people tend to overlook this common ingredient just because it’s readily available and affordable. This compact, nutritional powerhouse is none other than the monggo bean.

Tiny bean that packs a mean punch

Also known as the mung bean, this tiny legume packs a mean nutritional punch and can certainly hold its own alongside today’s “it” health food.

According to Laura Slayton, MS, RD, founder of Foodtrainers, monggo is packed with potassium, magnesium, folate, fiber and vitamin B6. She says, “Most women are deficient in magnesium and need it to control stress and repair muscles, especially if they’re working out. In terms of women’s health, folate and vitamin B6 are great for PMS and during pregnancy.”

Women ought to make it their new best friend considering how its health benefits are especially geared towards them. The phytoestrogens found in monggo help regulate hormones after menopause, relieve hot flashes and prevent osteoporosis. These phytoestrogens also contain skin anti-aging properties that stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin, which are essential to more supple, healthier skin.

Several studies attest to the capacity of monggo in helping prevent cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer. It’s high in protein and fiber but low in calories or carbohydrates, making it a satisfying dish for people struggling with diabetes or excess weight.

Enhancing the classic ‘ginisang monggo’

It’s a great thing that monggo, as a produce, is also easy to grow and quite tolerant to drought. That means that more Filipinos can also enjoy the health benefits of this versatile bean.

A classic way to prepare monggo is as sautéed mung bean stew or what most people know simply as ginisang monggo. The staple Filipino dish is easy to prepare - sautée with garlic, onions and tomatoes, add a bunch of malunggay or ampalaya leaves, and take the flavor up a notch by adding Knorr Pork Cubes. It will add a rich, meaty flavor to the savory dish.

Ginisang monggo also goes well with fried fish or pork such as fried tilapia or lechon kawali, but it is also good on its own over steaming, hot rice. Ask your mom how she used to prepare it for you (Read: Bring back home-cooked meals), or experiment and see how you can update a classic (Read: INFOGRAPHIC: How to cook Filipino classics with an unexpected twist). It’s a simple, filling meal that’s easy on the wallet and the waistline.

If you want to know more about what the mean little bean has to offer, check out this infographic. — Rappler.com