Mung bean sprouts -- the most widely consumed sprouts in the world, according to Colorado State University -- are the tender, crisp, yellow-white plant seedlings, or shoots, of germinated mung beans. Like alfalfa sprouts, mung bean sprouts are a low-calorie source of several important nutrients.
A 1-cup serving of raw mung bean sprouts provides about 30 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates -- which includes 2 grams of dietary fiber -- 3 grams of protein and less than half a gram of fat. It delivers 43 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin K based on a 2,000-calorie diet, as well as 23 percent and 16 percent of the recommended daily values for vitamin C and folate, respectively. Raw mung bean sprouts are six times richer in antioxidant compounds than mung beans and contain appreciable amounts of riboflavin, thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and potassium.
Although mung bean sprouts are a common salad ingredient, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns against eating them uncooked. Raw or lightly cooked sprouts pose a serious risk of foodborne illness and have been responsible for at least 30 large-scale outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli poisoning since 1996. The FDA recommends that children, older adults, pregnant women and people with poor immunity avoid sprouts, and it advises others to eat them fully cooked. Stir-fried mung bean sprouts provide about twice as many calories per serving than raw sprouts but are a better source of iron, vitamin C and B vitamins. Canned mung bean sprouts, however, have few nutrients.