Something smells fishy and it’s not the crotch of your sweaty gym clothes. Is it really true that fish food is good for you? Dulse, a unique-tasting, nutrient–rich seaweed that’s packed with goodness, is making its way into every grocery–store aisle, health–food shelf and Instagram story, and becoming one of the newest superfoods. What exactly is dulse?
Dulse is a tough, wavy-leaf, red seaweed that grows on rocks and boulders in the cold waters of Asia’s Northwest Pacific Ocean coastline and Northern Canada’s Atlantic Ocean coastline. Its harvest period is short, between the end of summer and beginning of fall. Phycologists (seaweed scientists) refer to it by its scientific name, Palmaria Palmata, but if you aren’t one, you’ll more likely call it dulse.
Dulse can be eaten raw, but its tough, chewy leaves make it difficult to swallow. Typically, dulse leaves are cleaned, dried and packaged before they hit our lips. They’re available in whole leaf, flaked leaf, powder and capsule form, and they taste like bacon (well, sort of).
Dulse contains plenty of fibre and protein (two grams of each per every one-third of a cup of whole dried leaf) and is only 20 calories. It’s high in minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, and chock-full of antioxidants such as lutein, beta-carotene and vitamins A, E and C. It’s full of so much healthy goodness because of its polysaccharide surface.
One of dulse’s biggest health benefits is its iodine content (iodine is found in most sea vegetables, actually). Too little iodine in one’s diet (an iodine insufficiency) can lead to an underactive thyroid, which can cause swelling around the neck, weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, dry skin and a constant chill in the body. If this is you, don’t panic; there’s no need to lock yourself in the house and become a recluse. Adding some dulse to your diet may be the boost your slacker thyroid needs. BUT––there’s always a but––check with your health–care provider because lab work is usually required for a proper diagnosis. It’s also important to note that too much iodine can also negatively affect your thyroid.
Here are even more ways in which Dulse can benefit your health:
- Builds strong bones because of its calcium and magnesium content. Calcium and magnesium are important minerals for bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
- Improves immune function. Vitamin C is a great immune regulator because it increases our immune cells.
- Promotes healthy blood. Iodine is high in iron (eight grams of dry dulse may contain more iron than 100 grams of raw steak), so dulse can raise the iron level in those who have a deficiency.
- Improves digestion. Dulse is high in fibre, the thing that bulks up your stool, promotes peristalsis (the movement of the intestines) and keeps us regular.
- Protects against cancer. Dulse’s antioxidants act as electron donors, shutting down the destruction that free radicals enact on the body. These antioxidants also decrease inflammation and help prevent other chronic diseases.
So, if you enjoy being healthy and trying new things (and want great Instagram content), head over to your local health food store and grab some dulse. You’ll be doing backflips* in no time. Please speak with your health-care provider if you are considering using dulse to treat a medical condition; medication or testing may be required.
*If you have not completed at least four years of gymnastics training, please do not try this at home.