Tempe, AZ—Mung bean protein can improve physical strength in vegetarians, according to a new study from researchers at Arizona State University College of Health Solutions.
Researchers studied the relationship between protein intake, strength, and lean body mass in 37 underactive vegetarians, according to a press release regarding the study. For eight weeks, a small subgroup was given a mung bean protein supplement. At the end of the trial, those who took the supplement saw improved strength—without exercise.
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Carol Johnston, co-author of the study, noted in the release that it’s harder to absorb protein from plant-based food sources; “There are a lot of constituents in plants that hinder the absorption of protein,” she says, including fiber. “Fiber acts as a barrier to absorbing whatever nutrients are around it. There’s no fiber in animal products, so protein digestion isn’t hindered when we consume animal products, but in plants, it is.” Additionally, she says, “protein is made up of amino acids, and the amino acid needs of different species vary because of differing metabolism requirements. Animal-based foods are almost perfect for humans because we’re also mammals, whereas plants are so different from us that they have different amino acid requirements.” Mung beans and other legumes, like peanuts, are high-protein, making them a good protein source for vegetarians—and mung beans, she adds, are sustainable.