Attractive and eye-catching with a beautiful purple or red color and leathery texture, Dulse (Palmaria palmate) is a kind of edible seaweed that is found growing on the northern coasts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Popular as a snack food, this alga is also known by the names red dulse, dilsk, dillisk, creathnach and red lettuce flakes. Dulse flakes is commonly used as food and medicine in countries like Iceland, Ireland, Atlantic Canada and the Northeastern parts of the United States. Fresh dulse from the sea can be eaten as such or you can buy sun dried from the local health food stores. It is also available in the flake or powder form. It can be used in soups, salads, sandwiches, chowders, and can also be added to bread or pizza dough. Adding Dulse to your dishes is a great way to enhance the flavor of the dishes. So what is dulse? Not only is Dulse a flavor enhancer, but is rich in nutrients that enhance your health as well.
Nutritional value of Dulse
When compared with other vegetables, Dulse is a wonderful source of nutrients with high protein content and provides all the important trace elements needed by the human body. It is a low calorie food with absolutely no amount of cholesterol and fat. It is also a good source of healthy carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Dulse has an exceptionally high level of mineral content. One particular study found a total of 112 different minerals and trace elements in a group of red seaweed from northern Spain. Minerals such as copper, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, and magnesium are present in highest amounts. It has been found that the potassium concentrations in dulse are 34 times more than that in a banana. In addition to these minerals, dulse also provides good amounts of vitamins A, C, E, B-6 and B-12. Dulse is rich in omega-3 fatty acids – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). It is also a great source of polyphenols that have strong antioxidant properties.
Health benefits of dulse
In addition to the presence of several health benefitting nutrients, dulse is also acknowledged for its powerful antioxidant properties. Eaten as a popular snack food in many countries, dulse is one of most nutritionally dense foods available. The following are some of the many reasons why you should consider incorporating this seaweed into your regular diet:
Dulse as a powerful antioxidant
According to various studies, edible seaweeds such as dulse have very strong anti-oxidative properties that possess free radical scavenging effects. Such potent antioxidant properties can be attributed to the presence of high amounts of polyphenols in this seaweed. A study conducted in a group of red and green seaweeds (published in the Journal of Food Chemistry and Toxicology) suggests that Dulse has the highest polyphenolic content and has the ability to inhibit cell proliferation. Because of these beneficial properties, Dulse has become of the research subjects of cancer researchers and is becoming more and more popular as an ingredient in anti-carcinogenic products.
Dulse for beautiful skin
Most of the seaweeds are known to improve the beauty of the skin and dulse is also no exception. Eating it on a regular basis is found to be beneficial in eliminating many skin disorders. Powdered dulse is commonly used as a natural and healthy face pack to obtain beautiful skin. This powder can also be used as an exfoliating treatment to get rid of impurities and dead skin cells. One of the reasons why dulse beautifies your skin is that it has the ability to naturally detoxify the liver. The detoxification or cleansing actions remove the unwanted impurities and toxins, thus improving the functioning of the liver and also the health of the skin. This seaweed contains polysaccharides, which when internally or externally help to provide smooth and supple ski by nourishing and tightening it. The nutrients in dulse can easily be absorbed by the skin and hence it is used as an ingredient in many skin care and cosmetic products.
Dulse promotes hair growth
Studies show that sea algae such as dulse are beneficial in the growth and maintenance of hair. Poor nutrition is one of the many reasons that lead to hair loss. Adding dulse to your regular diet may help in hair growth as well as restoring damaged hair. This seaweed contains many of the vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the healthy growth of hair. It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that nourish the hair follicles, which in turn stimulates hair growth. Minerals like iron and zinc found in dulse also help in promoting hair growth. Additionally, vitamin A and vitamin C in dulse help in the production of sebum that serves as a natural hair conditioner. Other nutrients such as calcium, vitamin B complex and vitamin E in dulse help to maintain healthy and beautiful hair.
Dulse for improving hypothyroid symptoms
Dulse is an excellent source of iodine, a mineral that is essential for people suffering from hypothyroid symptoms like fatigue, hair loss, constipation, chest pain, depression etc. The deficiency of iodine is considered to be one of the main factors that lead to these symptoms. Therefore the consumption of foods such as dulse that are good sources of iodine can help to relieve the various symptoms caused by iodine deficiency.
Dulse aids in digestion
Being a rich source of dietary fiber, dulse aids in the process of digestion and also promotes regular bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool, thus allowing its easy removal from the system. Hence the regular consumption of dulse helps in treating stomach disorders such as constipation. Dulse has also been considered as an age-old and effective remedy to get rid of parasitic worms from the body.
Dulse contains glutamic acid
Dulse has large number of amino acids and glutamic acid is one of them. This amino acid is used in the synthesis of the popular flavor enhancer, monosodium glutamate or MSG. Because of the presence of this amino acid, dulse enhances the flavor of dishes to which it is added, but without any harmful side effects. Glutamic acid is also helpful in promoting digestion and in improving the various functions of the nervous system functions. It is also believed that glutamic acid helps in controlling excess alcohol consumption, sugar cravings and also schizophrenia.
Dulse is a rich source of protein
It is often difficult for vegetarians to meet their daily requirements of protein because there are not many vegetable sources of protein available when compared to animal sources. Dulse is an exception as it is high in protein content and hence an ideal protein source for vegetarians.
Dulse can boost your energy levels
Studies suggest that dulse is a great source of energy which is why it should be included in your daily diet. Seaweeds, such as dulse have significant amounts of vitamins and minerals that help to prevent tiredness, fatigue, nerve damage, and memory loss.
Dulse is good for your heart
Dulse contains high levels of potassium, a mineral that helps to regulate heart beat. It functions as an electrolyte that helps in transmitting nerve impulses between the brain and the rest of the body. Potassium also acts as vasodilator, widening the blood vessels and allowing the blood to flow through them easily. This helps in preventing high blood pressure.
Dulse is a wonderful source if iron
When compared to other vegetables, dulse tops the list when it comes to the iron content. Iron helps the red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Eating dulse is a great way to prevent iron deficiency anemia. Moreover, iron is also needed for maintaining healthy skin and nails.
Dulse strengthens your immune system
Dulse is a healthy and nutritious sea vegetable that falls under the category of super foods. It is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which plays a vital role in improving the functioning of the immune system. Regular consumption of dulse can therefore help in strengthening your immune system and in prevent common ailments like flu and cold.
Dulse for eye health
Dulse is a good source of vitamin A, which can protect against night blindness and poor eyesight. Moreover, the antioxidants in this seaweed can prevent the oxidation stress caused by the free radicals on the cells, thus protecting against eye disorders like age related macular degeneration and cataract.
Dulse promotes weight loss
Seaweed Dulse is a low calorie, low fat and high fiber food that can be incorporated into your weight loss diet. The high fiber content in dulse keeps you feeling fuller for longer hours and thus reduces your likelihood of overindulging in snacks and other high calorie foods. Dried dulse flakes are consumed as a snack food.
The high density of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and polyphenols in dulse make it unique and worthy enough to be called a functional food. It is a versatile food that can be added to any dish and the beauty of this seaweed is that its nutritional content is not lost no matter how you cook it. Dulse is the number one choice of highly nutritional food for vegetarians and health conscious people.Image Credits: Flickr - Cory Janiak, Flickr - Rachell Miller, Flickr - Pain Chaud