What Is Dulse?
The important health benefits of dulse may include its ability to build bone health, optimize the digestive system, increase growth and repair, lower blood pressure, improve vision, and protect the immune system. Dulse also helps to improve the thyroid gland and strengthen the nervous system.
What is Dulse?
Dulse, scientifically known as Palmaria palmata, is an alga, which consists of a short stem (stipe) and broad red-tinted fronds (leaves) that are somewhat thick and leathery in texture. All variations of this red alga contain a rich mixture of minerals, although some grow faster than others, and have various flavors depending on geographic location. This nutrient-rich form of alga has been an important food source for more than a thousand years in various parts of the world. It primarily grows on the northern coasts of the world’s major oceans and is readily available in many areas. Most times, the alga can be picked by hand from the shoreline and then dried, fried, chopped, or ground for various culinary and medicinal uses.
Dulse is rich in protein, fibre, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese and vitamins A, C, B1, B2 and B6. It also contains polyphenols, polysaccharides and focoidan.
Dulse is used to flavor soups and salads, used as an herb for flavor (particularly certain varieties that taste vaguely of bacon when fried), and as a side to meat dishes. Palmaria palmata is the most widely used variety, but there are others that can be found in more exotic locales or in export shops. Dulse is very similar to seaweed in many ways but tends to have more fiber and protein content. It is also said by many to be more flavorful and is popular snack food.
Health Benefits of Dulse
The wealth of nutrients makes this an incredibly good food to add to your diet, so let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of dulse.
Help Build Strong Bones
There are a wealth of minerals found in dulse, which may include calcium, magnesium, and iron, all of which contribute to bone mineral density. These minerals can also help protect joints and tissues, helping to keep you stronger into your old age. If you’re concerned about developing osteoporosis, then ensuring that you have enough calcium in your diet is crucial for long-term health.
May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Potassium may be another of the essential minerals found in high supply within dulse. Potassium is well-known as a vasodilator, meaning that it can help reduce the strain and damage to blood vessels and arteries caused by high blood pressure. Helping to lower blood pressure also protects against atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. Potassium can also help increase blood flow to the brain and capillaries, making dulse a bit of a “brain” food as well!
Help Improve Eyesight
The possibly high levels of vitamin A found in dulse make it an ideal solution for vision problems. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant and prevents free radicals from damaging the tissues of the eye and causing macular degeneration. It can also slow down the development of cataracts; acting as an all-around vision booster.
Boost the Immune System
Dulse is rich in vitamin C, thus perhaps helping the body increase its white blood cell count and contributing to growth and repair through its important role in collagen production. Keeping the immune system in working order is crucial for overall health, and vitamin C is one of the easiest and most readily accessible ways to do that. 
Help Prevent Thyroid Disorders
Although many people forget that iodine can be a key part of dietary health, when your thyroid gland begins to act up, a lack of iodine is the usual explanation. Dulse’s possibly high iodine content can keep your thyroid gland behaving normally, helping to regulate many different hormonal interactions within the body. Thyroid disorders can be disastrous to the quality of life, so proper iodine intake is more important than you think!
Similar to seaweed, dulse is very high in dietary fiber, meaning that adding it to one’s diet may help regulate digestive processes, particularly for people suffering from constipation or diarrhea. The dietary fiber bulks up the stool and stimulates peristaltic motion, while also reducing inflammation and symptoms like bloating and cramping.
May Help Strengthen Nervous System
What many people don’t know is that polyunsaturated fatty acids are not only important for heart health, but also for the efficient functioning of your brain and nervous system. Studies have linked high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (found in good concentrations in dulse) with improved brain activity and nervous system function.
Improve Blood Circulation
There is a huge amount of iron found in dulse, as in seaweed, and given iron’s role in the production of hemoglobin, adding this type of seaweed to your diet may aid in circulation. Having an appropriate level of iron in the blood staves off anemia, with its unpleasant symptoms of stomach issues, headaches, cognitive disorders, and overall weakness.
Potential Antioxidant Properties
Many of the vitamins and minerals found in dulse, both alone and in conjunction, may provide a huge amount of antioxidant support against free radicals. This can mean a reduced risk of chronic diseases for those enjoying this miraculously nutritious and delicious plant!
Dulse is a type of seaweed. It is used as food in Ireland and Eastern parts of Canada. Dulse contains iodine, an element that the body needs to make thyroid hormones. It is also a rich source of potassium. Some people use dulse as medicine.
Dulse is used for high cholesterol and prevention of iodine deficiency, but there is no good scientific evidence to support its use.
Don't confuse dulse with Ascophyllum Nodosum, Algin, Blue-green Algae, Ecklonia Cava, and Laminaria.
Dulse is extremely rich in iodine, with a 30g serving providing 110 percent of the RDI for this important compound. Due to ongoing soil depletion, sea vegetables have long overtaken land vegetables in the iodine department, with Dulse being no exception.
Iodine is critical to the thyroid; it forms a part of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) which are used in every cell of the body to regulate metabolism and weight by controlling the burning of fat for energy and heat. These hormones are directly responsible for controlling the body’s “base metabolic rate” which affects the efficiency and efficacy of many of the body’s organ systems, and regular processes including the absorption and biosynthesis of food into usable energy. Iodine is literally "food for the thyroid".
Iodine also displaces dangerous "halides" such as; fluoride, bromide and chlorine in the thyroid. It is antioxidant, promotes proper hormone balance, protects from radiation and kills bacteria and fungi.
When the thyroid is compromised, symptoms can include unexplained weight loss/gain, fatigue, hair loss and dry skin.
Just one 7 gram serving of Dulse seaweed provides around 40 percent of vitamin A. The vitamin A found in Dulse is in the form of beta carotene, a compound that has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
A fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin A also helps to protect the surface of the eye (cornea), and is a component of rhodopsin – a protein in the eye that boosts vision in low light conditions. One of the first symptoms of a deficiency in this important vitamin is “night blindness”, or nyctalopia. Furthermore, vitamin A maintains the integrity of the cells of mucous membranes, including those of the eyes.
Dulse also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are known to be good for healthy eyesight, reducing free radical damage to the cells of the eyes.
Dulse is rich in fibre, mainly the soluble fibre, a soft and sticky substance that absorbs water to form a gel-like substance inside the digestive system. It helps to soften the stool so it can slide through the GI tract more easily, binding to substances like cholesterol and sugar, thus preventing or slowing their absorption into the blood. Soluble fibre can also help regulate blood sugar levels and protect against heart disease.
Healthy Bones and Teeth
Dulse is rich in magnesium and calcium, minerals that are essential to the integrity of bone structure and strong, healthy teeth.
Calcium forms a part of hydroxyapatite, the mineral complex that makes bones and teeth hard and maintains bone density. Roughly half of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones where it acts as a cofactor with calcium and vitamin D to maintain and strengthen the bone structure and teeth. Teeth can only form hard enamel from calcium if magnesium is available.
Dulse is also high in protein and provides all of the essential amino acids. These amino acids work with calcium, magnesium and vitamins D and K to create strong and healthy bones.
Skin and Hair
Dulse has a long history of traditional use for promoting beautiful healthy skin. It can be consumed for its antioxidant properties and rich polysaccharide content to nourish and tighten the skin. Externally, powdered Dulse is commonly used to make an exfoliating scrub to get rid of impurities and dead skin cells.
The rich nutrition in Dulse is beneficial to the growth and maintenance of healthy hair. In addition to the many vitamins and minerals that are necessary for hair, Dulse contains omega 3 fatty acids which nourish the hair follicles, thus stimulating hair growth.
How does it work ?
Dulse contains the minerals iodine and potassium. It also contains protein, fiber, and other chemicals. Some of these chemicals can reduce inflammation (swelling).
The benefits of dulse include, for a start, being significantly high in both protein and fibre. Dulse is a nutrient-rich red algae which has become increasingly popular in health food circles due to its numerous nutrition properties. More and more experts are advising people to implement sea greens into their diets, including dulse.
So what are the benefits of dulse?
The benefits of dulse are gaining more and more publicity as people catch on to the advantages of indulging in this red superfood.
Dulse contains significant levels of calcium and potassium which help your bones strengthen and become more resilient. Benefits of dulse also include helping to lower your blood pressure, improve your eye sight and improve the health of your thyroid gland.
The benefits of dulse mean that dieticians and nutritionists are advising the inclusion of dulse and other seaweed ingredients into a balanced diet, as this can work wonders for boosting the levels of anti-oxidants your intaking and providing your body with nutritional benefits.
The benefits of dulse has led to it already being heralded as a superfood, and it’s no surprise given its low calorie and fat intake and high nutritional value. It’s also a natural source of Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 most commonly comes from the meat in our diets, meaning vegetarians and vegans often have to resort to taking B12 supplements in order to make up for the lack of meat they’re intaking. Dulse can act as a natural alternative to supplements due to its significant B12 content.
Whilst the benefits of dulse obviously include its high calcium and potassium levels, the algae also contains substantial levels of beta-carotene. It’s this nutrient which allows the algae to improve eyesight.
Other benefits of dulse are present through its practicality. Dulse is extremely easy to implement into your diet. Just like popular seaweed ingredients like nori, dulse requires no cooking effort and can be bought as both flakes and in leaf form. This makes it incredibly easy to add into everyday dishes like salads, and even salad dressings or dips.
Like most seaweed ingredients, the red algae usually comes dried and salty in taste. This can act as an example of further benefits of dulse, as this salty taste means you can use it as a substitute for salt itself, creating a healthier dish overall with lower sodium levels.
What Are Some of the Health Benefits of Dulse?
Including Dulse flakes or Dulse seaweed leaves in your daily diet can help with every aspect of your wellbeing, such as:
Improved thyroid health: Including dulse in your diet is an easy way to naturally increase your iodine consumption, an essential nutrient that we must get from our diet as it cannot be synthesised by the human body. Iodine is of critical importance for thyroid balance and it is also said to protect the body from absorbing the radioactive iodine present in our environment.
Healthier blood and blood flow: Potassium is another essential nutrient, well-known as a vasodilator (medicines that dilates blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily). Potassium helps reduce the strain and damage to blood vessels and arteries caused by high blood pressure and protects against coronary heart disease, strokes and heart attacks. Potassium can also help increase blood flow to the brain and capillaries. Potassium plays an important role in balancing body fluids, helping your heart maintain a steady beat and is needed for proper muscle contraction.
Increased fibre to improve digestion and cleansing: Dulse contains a minimum of 35% fibre, with 10% soluble and the rest insoluble, both of which are important for a healthy body as they offer complementary benefits. Seaweed fibres are different to those in land-based plant foods because they contain fibrous polysaccharide substances such as alginic acid, which helps to detoxify heavy metals and radioactive isotopes from the body. Kelp seaweed and other brown seaweed varieties are particularly abundant in alginic acid or algin, but Dulse also contains this polysaccharide in adequate amounts. Since seaweed polysaccharides work to detoxify the liver, their cleansing ability naturally promotes glowing, healthier skin.
Healthier nervous system: Dulse contains omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which are not only important for heart health, but also for the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Studies have linked high levels of omega-3 fatty acids with improved brain and nervous system function. Another major benefit of the omega-3 content of Dulse is that it acts as an anti-inflammatory that is essential for balancing excess consumption of omega-6 fats which is all too common in our Western diet.
Increased folate/B-12: Depending on how Dulse has been dried (and subject to seasonal variation) it can contain varying levels of folate and vitamin B12. These essential nutrients tend to be found mostly in animal products, such as meat, poultry, milk, fish and eggs, so eating Dulse is an excellent way for you if you are a vegan, vegetarian or plant-based to get sufficient vitamin B12 in your daily diet. We have had samples of Dulse where a 99g portion of Dulse contains 6.6 micrograms of vitamin B12, which is more than 100 percent of the daily value set by the FDA.
Stronger Bones: Dulse contains a wealth of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and iron, all of which contribute to improved bone mineral density, especially important for women as we age and become more susceptible to osteoporosis. Calcium is crucial for long-term bone and joint health.
Improved eyesight: Dulse is also a good source of vitamin A, which acts as an antioxidant and prevents free radicals from damaging the eye tissue that leads to macular degeneration. Consumption of vitamin A in Dulse can also slow the development of cataracts, acting as an all-around vision booster. Dulse also contains vitamin C and the carotenoid antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, all of which promote healthy eyesight, reducing free radical damage and decreasing the risk of chronic disease.
Folklore and history
Seaweed has been a staple of the Asian diet for millennia. In 600 BCE, the Chinese author Sze Teu wrote a book describing how seaweed was prepared as a special gift to kings. In Japan in around 800 AD, at least 6 types of seaweed were commonly used in traditional Japanese meals.
During the Greek and Roman Empires, seaweeds growing in the Mediterranean Sea were routinely used as medicine. As early as 100 BCE, records indicate that ancient Greeks used a species of red algae (probably Dulse), to treat infections from parasitic worms.
At some point, the habit of eating seaweed, including Dulse, spread westward across Europe. Records from 500 AD indicate Christian monks in Ireland and Scotland were regularly eating and enjoying this nutritious red algae.
Dulse is also mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas of 961 AD. Highly valued as a nutritious food source, it even made an appearance in Icelandic legal documents. Iceland’s oldest law-book written in 1150 AD tells us it is, "Perfectly legal to collect and eat another man’s dulse when traveling across his property."
Growing abundantly along the northern coastlines of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Dulse is a red algae that has a long history of use as both a culinary and medicinal ingredient.
For over 1,500 years, northern Europeans have been consuming this nutritious seaweed, harvesting the red strands of Dulse from the shores to garnish their otherwise bland meals and providing themselves with the equivalent of a multi-vitamin in process!
Hugely popular in Ireland, Dulse has long been enjoyed by the Irish as a snack food, eaten dry and crispy as one would a packet of crisps. In folk medicine, Dulse was used to treat parasitical infections, relieve constipation and treat scurvy.
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