Dulse is a well-known vegan superfood that thrives along the rocky shores. Commonly found in the Northern coastlines of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, the stem of this red algae attaches to rocks while the leaves float on the water’s surface.
The Europeans have been eating dulse for over 1500 years. In Iceland and Ireland, the farmers used the strands of this nutritious red seaweed to garnish their bland meals. It is uncertain whether the early farmers were aware of the high nutritional value of this plant. But today, this primitive sea vegetable is known to be fortified with fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Quick Scientific Background of Dulse
With the scientific name Palmaria palmata, dulse belongs to the red algae division and Archaeplastida group. For photosynthesis to occur, dulse uses its red pigment molecules which are found in their chloroplasts. This gives color to the leaves of the plant and enables them to create their own energy.
This seaweed is believed to have been around for a very long time; the red algae is considered as among the oldest Eukaryotic subgroups.
Brief History of Dulse as a Food
Over the past 2000 years, red algae have been a part of traditional meals of the Chinese, Europeans, and Japanese. Historical records reveal that the plant was delivered as special gifts for Chinese kings as early as 600 BC. During the Roman and Greek empire, the red algae extracted from the Mediterranean Sea was used for medicinal purposes. Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks used dulse to treat parasitic worm infections in 100 BC.
When did humans start eating dulse?
Though the plant has been around for a very long time, records show that it was first consumed as a food only in 961 AD in Iceland. Also known as sol, the Icelandic Sagas claimed that this red algae was a highly valued food source in the region.
Eventually, people in Europe started eating dulse. In 500 AD, for example, the Christian monks in Scotland and Ireland regularly enjoyed it as part of their meals. Over 1400 years ago, the monks who followed St. Columba harvested these nutritious algae from the shorelines of the British Isles. This Irish abbot and missionary evangelist was responsible for the spread of Christianity in Scotland. Suprisingly, dulse derived its name from the Gaelic word dillisk.
Dulse has a pleasant texture when consumed fresh, but it can also be fried or dried to create flakes which you can sprinkle onto your soup or salad. It’s slightly chewy yet relatively easy to eat. You may also pan-fry your dulse. Pour a small amount of oil on the pan, then fry the flattened strips of dulse for three to four minutes. Make sure to stir the strips regularly to get a crispy and delicious dulse. You can also add lettuce and tomato if you like.
Why should you eat this red algae? Simply because you wouldn’t want to miss out its powerful nutrients. These nutrients are beneficial for the human body.
A single serving of dulse is an excellent source of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and chromium.
Magnesium, iron, and calcium are essential in improving bone density. When bone density is compromised, it can result to osteoporosis, especially when we get old. Our bodies needs iron to improve muscle functioning and provide sufficient supply of red blood cells. Moreover, since potassium is a vasodilator, it can help in preventing high blood pressure.
Dulse is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, B12, and C. This seaweed helps vegan to acquire Vitamin B12 which is most frequently found in animal-based foods. Meanwhile, the vitamin A content of dulse is useful in building and maintaining healthy skin, bones, and teeth, as well as soft tissues. Of course, vitamin C is important in boosting our immune system. Aside from acting as antioxidant, vitamin C also improves white blood cell count and enhances the production of collagen.
Omega-3 and Omega-6
Red algae are known to be a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs. In particular, dulse provides omega-6 and omega-3. When these PUFAs work together, they regulate multiple functions in the body which include blood pressure, arthritis, and blood clotting. They also affect the proper functioning of the brain and the central nervous system.
Our body needs protein and this nutrient is commonly derived from animal products. Suprisingly, consuming 100 grams of fresh dulse can provide 21.5 grams of protein. According to the FDA, 21 grams accounts for the 43% of our body’s daily protein requirement. Thus, consuming dulse is definitely a good way to acquire protein without eating animal meat.
55 grams of fresh dulse can deliver 16 grams of dietary fibre which is highly beneficial to our digestive system. Dietary fibre promotes improved bowel movement, and provides a multitude of health benefits.
Iodine and Its Precaution
If you have any questions regarding dulse and your personal iodine intake levels, consult a trained physician or dietician.
If you have thyroid gland issues, dulse makes an excellent remedy. Its iodine content can help in improving the thyroid function. However, because it is rich in iodine, overconsumption of dulse can lead to hormonal imbalance. Thus, dulse should be taken in moderation. Extra caution should be given by people who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Dulse will really make a good addition to your diet. It’s not just easy to prepare, it is also packed with health nutrients that can really make a difference in achieving long-term better health.
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