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Foods That Heal – Dulse

Foods That Heal - Dulse

Greetings friends. Today I am going to look at a healing vegetable food with a difference as this amazing vegetable comes from the sea! Sea vegetables contain vast nutritional value and posses wonderful therapeutic properties. The sea vegetable we are looking at today is called Dulse. Palmaria palmata, also called dulse, dillisk or dilsk (from Irish/Scottish Gaelic duileasc/duileasg), red dulse, sea lettuce flakes, or creathnach, is a red alga (Rhodophyta) previously referred to as Rhodymenia palmata. It grows on the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It is a well-known snack food. In Iceland, where it is known as söl, it has been an important source of dietary fiber throughout the centuries. Dulse is a good source of minerals and vitamins compared with other vegetables, contains all trace elements needed by humans, and has a high protein content. Dulse is commonly used in Ireland, where it can be used to make “White Soda Bread”, Iceland, Atlantic Canada, and the Northeast United States as food and medicine. It can be found in many health food stores or fish markets and can be ordered directly from local distributors. In Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, it is traditionally sold at the Ould Lammas Fair. It is particularly popular along the Causeway Coast. Although a fast-dying tradition, many still gather their own dulse. Along the Ulster coastline from County Down to County Donegal, it is eaten dried and uncooked as a snack. It is used in cooking: dulse’s properties are similar to those of a flavour-enhancer. It is commonly referred to as dillisk on the west coast of Ireland. Dillisk is usually dried and sold as a snack food from stalls in seaside towns by periwinkle sellers. Fresh dulse can be eaten directly off the rocks before sun-drying. Sun-dried dulse is eaten as is or is ground to flakes or a powder. In Iceland, the tradition is to eat it with butter. It can be pan-fried quickly into chips, baked in the oven covered with cheese, with salsa, or simply microwaved briefly. It can be used in soups, chowders, sandwiches, and salads, or added to bread or pizza dough. Finely diced, it can be used as a flavour enhancer in meat dishes, such as chili, in place of monosodium glutamate.

Dulse is a clinically recognized antioxidant and excellent plant protein source

Glutathione-ProtectsDulse extract has been clinically proven to possess free radical scavenging activity, making dulse useful as an antioxidant. The seaweed has also been demonstrated to inhibit the growth of lipid (fat) cells in the laboratory. This is extremely important as environmental toxins are believed to be causing an increase in a host of auto-immune diseases. The combination of constant stress, environmental pathogens, and malnutrition is burning out many people’s immune systems. Utilizing dulse and other antioxidants helps to repair compromised body tissues. Dulse may also be considered an excellent source of plant protein. Interestingly, in a 1999 study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, dulse was collected and measured for protein content over a one year time period. The study revealed that seasons affect dulse’s protein levels. The highest protein count for dulse occurred in the winter and spring, while the lowest protein count for dulse occurred in the summer and autumn. Digestibility of powdered dulse was measured at 56%. This is a truly useful healing food that may be able to help with other health issues such as hypothyroidism due to Dulse being very high in iodine.

So what’s the point of adding more Dulse to the diet?

The main reason I recommend to add Dulse to dishes is for iodine. Iodine deficiency as indicated by clinicians such as Dr David Brownstein and associates say that when they test their patients for iodine, at least 96% are deficient. Iodine is one of the leading causes of retardation in children and there is also evidence that links deficiency of iodine to ADD and ADHD. Iodine is important for thyroid functions in infants, children and adults. It is critical for neurological function as well as brain development in the foetus and infants. A deficiency in iodine has been linked to the following:

  • Breast and prostate cancer
  • Thyroid disease
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Depression
  • Breast tenderness and fibrotic breast disease
  • PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Dry skin and hair and hair loss as well as the loss of the distal third of the eyebrow
  • Miscarriage and still birth in pregnant women
  • Infertility.

Sadly our food supply is lacking in Iodine. Due to this lack, it’s important to increase the amount of iodine in the diet due to the following reasons:

  • The avoidance of salt due to fear of salt
  • The increased consumption of gourmet salts that are lacking in iodine fortification
  • Poor soil concentrations of iodine in New Zealand and Australia
  • The declining number of people eating seafood due to worry of mercury and other pollutants
  • Our water supply and some medications containing fluoride which are antagonists of iodine
  • Increase in heavy metals in environment and iodine helps in the removal of heavy metals from the body, the more heavy metals the more the need for iodine
  • Increase in bromide in our environment, bromide is an antagonist of iodine, so more iodine is required to push bromide out of the iodine receptors. Bromide is sprayed on erries, found in carpets, fire retardants, medications, some milk supplies and many other hidden places
  • Increase in zeno oestrogen’s in the environment – iodine is anti-oestrogenic
  • Advice of Dr Jack Kruse – neurosurgeon and the need for iodine in Australia and New Zealand due increase need of electrons as a result of the ozone hole in the southern hemisphere.

The RDA (recommended daily allowance and sometimes known as ‘really dumb advice’) of iodine is to prevent goiter, but does that amount give us maximum health? With all the common health problems linked to iodine deficiency, it is evident that iodine RDA is severely inadequate in this day and age with pollutants, antagonists and iodine soil deficiency. We need to make a concerted effort to consume more, by adding seafood and sea vegetables like Dulse to our diet.

Dulse is Packed With Nutrition

  • Minerals in significant amounts of Dulse include: iodine, calcium potassium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, chromium and iron.
  • Iodine – One serving of Dulse contains approximately 260 micrograms of iodine (this varies with seasons) which is approximately 150% of the RDA. Iodine requires a myriad of vitamins and minerals for utilisation in the body. Dulse supplies some of these nutrients, such as manganese and magnesium, then with the addition of fresh foods, nuts especially brazil nuts, high in selenium and foods high in vitamin C such as Camu Camu, the body is able to utilise the iodine more efficiently. The importance of the mineral iodine cannot be understated and in every way, try to have iodine in your diet, through my seaweed salt, dulse in many cooked foods and salads as well as the incorporation of fish especially shell fish into the diet. Many of our soils are lacking in iodine so most foods that could have iodine in them are missing this important nutrient, so we must head to the sea to provide our iodine needs.
  • Not only is Dulse high in iodine, it is also packed with minerals including iron, calcium and potassium. One serving of Dulse Flakes provides approximately 1.65 mg of iron and 391 mg of potassium 10.65mg of calcium and 0.14mg of zinc. These minerals are important in heart health, fluid balance, muscle integrity, oxygen requirements and much more. You can never underestimate the importance of these minerals.
  • Vitamins in Dulse include B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Vitamin A, C, E and K.

When the body’s micro biomes are working at their best, they produce all vitamin B’s but many people have compromised colon bacteria and so do not get adequate vitamin B throughout the day, except what they consume and even then, their nourishment is not complete. Dulse helps compliment a healthy diet with some of these vitamins.

Even More on Dulse

_Dulse_FlakesDulse has been known to have up to 112 minerals and and trace elements, amino acids, vitamins, DHA and other nutrients held within this sea plant. The mineral content of Dulse vary extensively depending on seasons, environment, water temperature, sunlight exposure, drying process and much more. Dulse is not something that has been studied extensively like land based plants, therefore we don’t know the full extent of this sea vegetable. The variability in the nutritional value of Dulse is high. The location, season, and mineral content of the water it resides in has a large impact on its mineral and nutrient profile. There was a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry that found the protein content in Dulse was twice as high in the winter than in the summer. Exposure to sun can have an effect on the vitamin and mineral content in Dulse. So while the nutritional profile I’ve given you may look fixed, like any food, nutritional profile is never fixed – it all depends on many variable environmental factors. Keeping your Dulse stored in a dark pantry, in a glass container will help hold the nutrition of the Dulse. This is a food that is suggested we add to our diets. It’s as simple as adding salt or a herb or spice, it can add flavour and nutrition to just about any dish.

I highly recommend that you include this healing food into your diet as soon as you can. I trust Changing Habits Dulse Flakes as they are a trusted Australian company and their Dusle is sourced from the best possible sources. If you would like to try some for yourself or learn more about using Dulse in your diet or cooking see their website here – Changing Habits Dulse Flakes – Click Here.

Well that’s it from me, until next time, be well, naturally.

Craig Hitchens – Natural Health Practitioner + Remedial Therapist



Sources: “Extracts from dulse (Palmaria palmata) are effective antioxidants and inhibitors of cell proliferation in vitro.” Y.V. Yuan, et al. Food and Chemical Toxology, July 2005; 43(7):1073-81. “Nutritional value of proteins from edible seaweed Palmaria palmata (dulse),” A.V. Galland-Imouli, et al. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, June 1999; 10(6): 353-9.
Bauman “Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis: Eating for Health Applications for Recovery,” by Jody Friedlander, M.S. and Edward Bauman, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Mayo “Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) Symptoms,” by Mayo Clinic staff.

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The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of posting but may change thereafter. The information provided on the various natural health subjects from this website of is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. The information in the article this disclaimer is linked from is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your health professional before taking any products or following any advice that you believe may conflict with other forms of health care. Always consult your health care professional before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your health professional before use.

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