Increased metabolism, vitamins and minerals, healing and enhancing of the liver, and digestive system healing. These are some of the many benefits of dulse, a red seaweed that also serves as a well-known snack food.
What is Dulse?
Dulse grows on the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and has even been an important source of fiber for centuries in Iceland. It is also a clinically proven antioxidant and plant-based source of iodine and potassium. In sun-dried form, dulse is commonly eaten as flakes or powder. Red or purple in color, the plant has the binomial name Palmaria palmata. It grows either attached to rocks or by a “holdfast.” The plant has a short stipe and variable fronds, also having a rather leathery texture.
Compared with other vegetables, dulse is a good source of minerals and vitamins and contains all trace elements needed by humans, featuring a high protein content. From June to September, it is commonly found and can be hand-picked when the tide is out. It grows within the intertidal zone from the mid tide portion and into deeper water at depths of 20 m or more. After being picked by hand, the plant is brought to drying fields and put through a shaker to remove shells, small snails, etc. and then spread to dry. In some countries it is used as fodder for animals.
Dulse is the only species of palmaria found on the coast of Atlantic Europe. It can be found from Portugal to the Baltic coasts as well as on the coasts of Iceland and the Fanoe Islands. Palmaria palmate also grows on the shores of Arctic Canada, Arctic Russia, Japan, Korea, and Alaska. In the northeast United States as well as Iceland, Ireland, and Atlantic Canada, Palmaria palmate is commonly used as food and medicine and can be found in many health food stores or fish markets. It can also be ordered directly from local distributors. In cooking, it is used as a flavor-enhancer.
How to Incorporate Dulse in Your Daily Diet
There are different ways to eat it. It can be eaten directly off the rocks before sun-drying, it can be eaten sun-dried either as ground into flakes or a powder. In Iceland it is traditionally eaten with butter. A versatile food and enhancer, it can be pan fried into chips, baked, or simply microwaved. It can also be of used in soups, sandwiches and salads, or even added to bread or pizza dough. When finely diced, dulse can be used to enhance flavor in meat dishes such as chili, in place of sodium salt. Because it contains iodine, it is good for the prevention of goiter.
Loaded with numerous valuable vitamins and minerals, including potassium and iron, a 3.5-ounce serving of the fresh seaweed provides about 33 mg of iron and 1,720 mg of potassium, offering over 100 percent of the daily values set by the FDA based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day. Iron is good for red blood cells and helps muscle cells carry oxygen throughout the body and is necessary for proper chemical reactions. Potassium holds an important role as it is essential for proper contraction of muscles and helps your heart maintain a steady beat.
Dulse flakes are crunchy and have a nutty, slightly salty taste. These flakes are rich in iodine, which is an element that is severely lacking in most people’s diet today. Your body cannot naturally make iodine but it needs it to function. Iodine can be found all over oceans, soil, rocks, and within seaweed. The body needs iodine for the development of important thyroid hormones. Your thyroid is a gland that is located near your neck, and is in charge of metabolic processes such as growth and the use of energy. The rate of iodine deficiency has increased 400 percent over the last 40 years. An iodine deficiency can lead to the following:
• Infertility in women
• Links to breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease
• Leading cause of preventable intellectual disability or mental retardation in children
• Weight gain, lack of energy, depression, cardiovascular disease
• Goiter (hyperthyroidism)
The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iodine is 150-290 micrograms for adults. It only takes one gram of dulse flakes to provide that daily amount.
Dulse is a Phenomenal Source of Protien
Protein content is important because not only do proteins help in the creation of new cells, but they also serve a significant role in your body’s maintenance and repair. A serving of only 3.5 ounces of fresh Palmaria palmata offers 21.5 grams worth of protein, around 43 percent of the FDA’s set daily value. In June 1999, an article that was published in “The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry” noted that the seaweed may be a potential source of protein in the human diet. Vitamin B-12 is another key benefit of the plant. This vitamin plays a key role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood.