kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

One thing for certain – we will all be wearing masks in 2021.  The coronavirus is primarily transmitted person to person via respiratory spray. Staying away from people (social distancing) and decreasing the germs being transmitted between people are both ways to decrease the spread of the virus. The CDC claims that wearing a mask can reduce your chances of contracting covid by 30-98%. Your chances of staying safe are better if you wear a well-fitting mask that covers both your nose and mouth.

Consider these three situations and how likely you are to get sick depending on who wears a mask.

  • If you wear one, your chances are lowered to 70%.
  • If a sick person wears one, your chances are down to 5%
  • And if both people wear them, your chances of getting sick are down to 1.5%.

I didn’t confirm these numbers, but you get the idea – masks work at lowering your risk of contracting the virus – and spreading it if you are a carrier and not showing symptoms.

These are the guidelines posted by the CDC:

  • People age 2 and older should wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.​
  • Masks offer some protection to you and are also meant to protect those around you, in case you are unknowingly infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • A mask is NOT a substitute for social distancing. Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching or removing your mask.
  • Masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with other people who live in your household. However, some localities may have mask mandates while out in public and these mandates should always be followed.

I see many people with their masks barely covering their noses walking through the grocery store. Invest in at least two masks that fit properly over the bridge of your nose and around your mouth. That said, I have pulled my mask away from my face to be heard and I still relish walking my dogs outdoor and social distancing without a mask. But, mask wearing is a daily reality and probably should be mandated everywhere until we are all vaccinated.

Despite being potentially life-saving, masks have been hard for some to accept. One national survey of nearly 60,000 respondents cites “discomfort” as the leading reason why some choose not to wear a mask in public. Many users report breathlessness, sweating, nausea and increased heart rate from masking – even though doctors have said repeatedly that masks do not inhibit the flow of oxygen.

We take about 25,000 breaths a day. Breathing properly is critical to how well our bodies function. Journalist James Nestor became interested in the respiratory system years ago after his doctor recommended he take a breathing class to help his recurring pneumonia and bronchitis.

While researching the science and culture of breathing for his new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, Nestor learned that “slow and low” breaths through the nose can help relieve stress and reduce blood pressure. “This is the way your body wants to take in air,” Nestor says. “It lowers the burden of the heart if we breathe properly and if we really engage the diaphragm.”

Nestor learned that nose breathing is better than mouth breathing because it is protective; the nose filters, heats, and treats raw air. Inhaling through the nose stimulates the release of hormones and nitric oxide, which helps regulate vital functions like blood pressure and increased oxygenation throughout the body.

Breathing correctly keeps the body in acid-base based balance, which enables tissues to get the amount of oxygen they need to function optimally. This balance is achieved by maintaining an ideal level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood. Too little CO2, which can happen when  breathing is rapid and shallow, impedes the release of oxygen to body tissues and can cause anxiety, irritability, fatigue and lack of focus.

Rapid, shallow breathing keeps the body in a high state of alert and engages the sympathetic nervous system. Even in normal times, people tend to mouth breath rapidly which uses neck and chest muscles instead of the diaphragm.

So, the key is: engage your diaphragm when breathing. This technique helps to slow down your breathing so you can catch your breath and use less energy to breathe. When you feel short of breath, belly breathing helps get more oxygen into your lungs and calms you down so you can better control your breath.

To practice belly breathing, sit down in a comfortable chair, sit up straight and put your hands on your belly or if it’s more comfortable you can lay down with your knees bent.

  • Close your mouth and take a slow, deep breath in through your nose.
  • When you breathe in, you want your belly to fill with air and get bigger like a balloon.
  • Blow all of the air out slowly and gently through pursed lips as if you were blowing bubbles.
  • Concentrate on your breathing as you continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Repeat belly breathing for five to ten minutes and relax.
  • Just remember to keep your hands on your belly, as it helps you to concentrate on the air going in and out.

The more you practice, the easier it will be to calm down and breathe more freely. Doing five minutes of respiratory muscle training every morning and night can help you learn to breathe more effectively at all times without having to think about it.

Building stronger respiratory muscles may also help with the battle if you do contract the virus.

Stronger breathing will make living through the pandemic while breathing through a mask less challenging.

Wearing a standard surgical face mask or a cloth mask does not lower a person’s oxygen levels. Nor does mask wearing trap a significant amount of carbon dioxide, says Christopher Ewing, a lung specialist based in Alberta, Canada.

Ewing suggests just before putting on your mask that you take five quality breaths. With each breath inhale through you nose for four seconds, exhale through the mouth for six second. Repeat these five breaths as soon as you put on the mask, and again after you remove it.

If you are a teacher, medical worker or checkout clerk who must wear a mask for an extended period, take periodic breaks when you can safely remove the mask and breathe normally.

Mung Bean Sprouts

Mung beans (Vigna radiata) are small, green beans that belong to the legume family. These beans have a slightly sweet taste and are sold fresh, as sprouts or as dried beans.

One cup (7 ounces or 202 grams) of boiled mung beans contains.

  • Calories: 212
  • Fat: 0.8 grams
  • Protein: 14.2 grams
  • Carbs: 38.7 grams
  • Fiber: 15.4 grams
  • Folate (B9): 80% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 24% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B1: 22% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 20% of the RDI
  • Iron: 16% of the RDI
  • Copper: 16% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 15% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6 and selenium

Folate (also known as vitamin B9) is an important vitamin for DNA synthesis, cell and tissue growth, hormonal balance, cognitive function, and even reproduction. In fact, consuming enough folate is especially important during pregnancy because it’s essential for preventing early births, neural tube defects and even termination.

Mung beans also helps people reach their magnesium needs. Many adults are actually deficient in magnesium, which is an important minerals to control stress levels and manage pain. Magnesium is important for digestive health, proper heartbeat functioning, neurotransmitter release and repairing muscle tissue in people who are very active.

Mung beans are one of the best plant-based sources of protein, with about 20 percent to 24 percent of their chemical structure made up of amino acids (protein), according to the Department of Chemistry at the Harbin Institute of Technology China. Globulin and albumin are the main storage proteins found in mung bean seeds and make up over 85 percent of the total amino acids found in the beans. They’re rich in essential amino acids, such as phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, arginine and more. Essential amino acids are those that your body is unable to produce on its own and combined with other plant sources (like whole grains or some vegetables), they make a “complete protein.”

Since mung beans are often also consumed sprouted, it’s important to note that sprouting changes their nutritional composition. Sprouted beans contain fewer calories and more free amino acids and antioxidants than unsprouted ones. (The sprouts are germinated seeds.) Sprouts are known for their high proteolytic enzyme content. Proteolytic enzymes are responsible for breaking down proteins from animal sources which ensures better nutrient absorption and extraction.

In a 1990 article by Dr. Geoffrey Savage, he noted that mung bean sprouts had significant increases in folic acid and ascorbic levels and better bioavailability of iron. Folic acid is a B vitamin essential for cellular development and vitamin metabolism, while ascorbic acid is responsible for optimizing immune system function.

Sprouting reduces levels of phytic acid, which is an antinutrient. Antinutrients can reduce the absorption of minerals like zinc, magnesium and calcium.

According to a 2017 study published by Biomed Research International, “Legume consumption is suggested to have protective effects against cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in the general population.” One 2011 study published in the Journal of Human and Experimental Toxicology found that mung beans are highly effective at inhibiting LDL cholesterol oxidation. It found that mung beans have the ability to regulate cholesterol levels because their antioxidants act like potent free-radical scavengers, reversing damage done to blood vessels and lowering inflammation.

Oxidized LDL cholesterol is one of the biggest risks of deadly cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or stroke. LDL cholesterol can accumulate within the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, and block blood flow, triggering cardiac arrest. Mung beans are a great addition to any anti-inflammatory diet thanks to their ability to keep arteries clear and to improve circulation.

In a 2014 study published in the Chemistry Central Journal, rats that were given mung bean sprout extracts for one month experienced significant reductions in systolic blood pressure levels. The researchers believed that mung beans’ anti-hypertensive effects might be due to their high concentration of protein fragments known as peptides. These help decrease constricting of blood vessels that raises blood pressure.

A 2018 study published in Clinical Nutrition suggest that legume consumption reduced the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer-related deaths. High levels of the amino acids oligosaccharides and polyphenols in mung beans are thought to be the main contributors to their antioxidant power that can fight cancer development. In clinical studies, mung beans show anti-tumor activity and are able to protect DNA damage and dangerous cell mutation.

A 2012 study done by the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering at the China Agricultural University showed that mung beans’ antioxidant capacities are mainly derived from vitexin and isovitexin, two types of protective flavonoids that have high free-radical scavenging abilities. These flavonoids lower oxidative stress that can contribute to cancer formation.

A 2008 study done by the Institute of Crop Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences found that when rats were given mung bean supplements, they experienced lowered blood glucose, plasma C-peptide, glucagon, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. At the same time, the rats significantly improved glucose tolerance and increased insulin responsiveness. Therefore, mong beans are especially good for diabetics.

Mung bean nutrition contains a range of phytonutrients that are considered antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. In fact, compounds isolated from mung beans are even used to preserve certain foods and reduce spoilage. Their antibacterial properties can help increase immunity and fight harmful bacteria, viruses, colds, rashes, irritations and more. Mung beans promote a healthy balance of bacteria within the digestive tract, which helps with nutrient absorption and immune defense.

In many Asian countries, mung bean soup is commonly consumed on hot days because mung beans are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that help protect against heat stroke, high body temperatures, thirst and more. Animal studies have shown that the antioxidants in mung bean soup may actually help defend cells against injury from free radicals that form during heat stroke.

Because mung beans nutrition contains high levels of fiber and protein, they are one of the most filling foods there is. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers observed that a single meal with high-fiber beans produced a twofold greater increase in the satiety hormone called cholecystokinin when compared to meals that didn’t contain beans.

Mung bean nutrition provides B vitamins, including vitamin B6 and folate, which are both important for controlling hormone fluctuations that can lead to severe PMS symptoms. B vitamins, folate and magnesium are useful for lowering the severity and pain associated with PMS symptoms, including cramps, headaches, mood swings, fatigue and muscle aches.

While some people experience gas or bloating from eating beans, mung beans are considered one of the easiest beans to digest and can actually help with detoxification in some cases.

Add mung beans into your diet without experiencing unwanted digestive effects by first soaking and sprouting dried beans overnight and then cooking them with traditional Ayurvedic spices that can help increase digestibility. In India, they are commonly cooked with such spices as ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric in order to help make them taste great while also helping to avoid any stomach pains. Soaking and sprouting mung beans can also help reduce “antinutrients” that are naturally present within all legumes and beans, making them easier to digest and also releasing more of their nutrients. Types of carbohydrates called oligosaccharides, raffinose, stachyose and verbascose are present in raw (unsprouted) or poorly processed legumes, which can cause uncomfortable flatulence.

Historians also tell us that mung bean soup has been traditionally taken as a kind of health food in China for many centuries. The beans are valued for their ability to reduce coldness and dampness, support the spleen and stomach, provide protein, and prevent nutrient deficiencies. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s recommended that mung beans be cooked to improve digestion and prevent diarrhea.

How to Buy

Buy mung beans in your local health food stores or ethnic markets that sell ingredients for Indian and Asian cooking. When buying mung beans, check for discolored or damaged beans and discard them before cooking them or making mung bean sprouts, since these can contain harmful bacteria.

If you are buying pre-sprouted beans, check that they are firm. Mushy sprouts are probably moldy and you shouldn’t eat them.

How to Store

Store beans in an air-tight container in a dry, dark place. Store sprouts in the fridge. Clean them as you use them. They will last longer if they are dry.

How to Cook

If you plan on growing your own sprouts, it’s important to know that seeds available in the market are loaded with pesticides and other harmful chemicals. In fact, a 2015 study from Ecotoxicology found that excessive pesticides may inhibit seed germination. To make sure that you’re using fresh seeds, it would be best to get your supply from health food stores. If you’re going to be using grocery store-bought seeds, make sure you only get those labeled solely for sprouting purposes.

If you’re unsure of the seeds you bought, you can try soaking them overnight to get rid of the chemicals. Soak them with about a third full of clean water in a clean Mason-type jar covered with a mesh sprouting screen. The soak time depends on the seed size: five hours for small seeds and 12 hours for large seeds and grains.

In the morning, drain and rinse them, then turn the jar on its side and repeat three times daily until they sprout — on average about three days. Rinsing and draining them three times a day gives them just the right amount of moisture.

  • Your container should be a quarter to a third full of seeds (they swell to around eight times their original size) and kept at room temperature with good air circulation.
  • Once green tips begin appearing on the sprouts, they can be used immediately or refrigerated for several days

In India, split and peeled mung beans are traditionally used in the dish called dahl, which is a thick stew that is high in fiber and protein, yet low in calories. It’s a filling meal and considered a staple in Indian cooking that is eaten multiple times per week for most families.

In Chinese cuisine, mung beans are also used to make pancakes or dumplings, combined with rice in stir-fries as a staple dish, and even used in desserts. Whole mung beans are used to make tángshuǐ, a type of Chinese dessert that literally translates to “sugar water” because the beans are cooked with sugar, coconut milk and a little bit of ginger. They are also ground into a paste to form a popular type of ice cream and sorbet in Hong Kong.

Mung bean sprouts are made into a processed version of starch noodles that are most common in Asian cuisine. Mung beans have a much greater carbohydrate content (about 50 percent to 60 percent) than soybeans do, so they work well as flour and noodle products. The starch is the predominant carbohydrate in the legume and is why these beans are typically used for the production of starchy noodles, such as the kind called muk in Korea.

Savory Thai Noodles With Seared Brussels Sprouts

Isa Chandra Moskowitz /Photo Credit:Ryan Liebe for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne

3-4 Servings


  • cup tamari sauce
  • cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

For the Noodles:

  • 8 ounces Thai rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 bunch (6 to 8) scallions, trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces trimmed brussels sprouts, shredded or quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves and thin stems
  • 4 ounces mung bean sprouts 
  • ½ cup salted roasted peanuts, lightly cracked in a mortar or coarsely chopped
  • 1 red chile, such as Fresno, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 4 lime wedges, for serving


  1. Make the sauce: In a blender or bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix until smooth. It should be thick but pourable like barbecue sauce; add water as needed to thin it out.
  2. Cook noodles for stir-frying according to the package directions; they should be slightly underdone. After draining, rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking. Toss noodles in 1 teaspoon coconut oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Cut scallions: Thinly slice the white parts, and cut the pale and dark green parts into 1-inch lengths.
  4. Heat a wok or large nonstick skillet over high. Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and sprinkle in salt. Add brussels sprouts and sear, tossing occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. In the same pan over high heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Add scallions and cook, stirring often, just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, stir, then pour in about half the sauce and stir until bubbling.
  6. Add noodles and cook, tossing in the sauce until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining sauce, cooked brussels sprouts, cilantro and bean sprouts; toss to coat and heat through.
  7. Divide among plates. Garnish with peanuts, chile and lime wedges (if using) and serve immediately.



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