Dulse (Seaweed)

The benefits of dulse are gaining more and more publicity as people catch on to the advantages of indulging in this red superfood.

Dulse contains significant levels of calcium and potassium which help your bones strengthen and become more resilient. Benefits of dulse also include helping to lower your blood pressure, improve your eye sight and improve the health of your thyroid gland.

The benefits of dulse mean that dieticians and nutritionists are advising the inclusion of dulse and other seaweed ingredients into a balanced diet, as this can work wonders for boosting the levels of anti-oxidants your intaking and providing your body with nutritional benefits.

The benefits of dulse has led to it already being heralded as a superfood, and it’s no surprise given its low calorie and fat intake and high nutritional value. It’s also a natural source of Vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 most commonly comes from the meat in our diets, meaning vegetarians and vegans often have to resort to taking B12 supplements in order to make up for the lack of meat they’re intaking. Dulse can act as a natural alternative to supplements due to its significant B12 content.

Whilst the benefits of dulse obviously include its high calcium and potassium levels, the algae also contains substantial levels of beta-carotene. It’s this nutrient which allows the algae to improve eyesight.

Other benefits of dulse are present through its practicality. Dulse is extremely easy to implement into your diet. Just like popular seaweed ingredients like nori, dulse requires no cooking effort and can be bought as both flakes and in leaf form. This makes it incredibly easy to add into everyday dishes like salads, and even salad dressings or dips.

Like most seaweed ingredients, the red algae usually comes dried and salty in taste. This can act as an example of further benefits of dulse, as this salty taste means you can use it as a substitute for salt itself, creating a healthier dish overall with lower sodium levels.
Mighty Minerals
Dulse is packed with valuable minerals, including iron and potassium. A 3.5-ounce serving of fresh dulse seaweed provides approximately 33 milligrams of iron and 1,720 milligrams of potassium, which is more than 100 percent of the daily values set by the Food and Drug Administration based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Iron helps red blood cells and muscle cells carry oxygen throughout your body and is needed for proper chemical reactions. Potassium plays an important role in balancing body fluids, helps your heart maintain a steady beat and is needed for proper muscle contraction.

Omega-3 and Omega-6
Polyunsaturated fatty acids help regulate many of your body's functions, such as blood clotting and blood pressure, and aid in proper development and functioning of your brain and nervous system. They also play an important role in regulating inflammation. A September 2022 article by Sinead Lordan et al., published in "Marine Drugs" noted that because red and brown algae are particularly rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they may be an effective addition as part of a balanced diet.

Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 is found mostly in animal foods — such as meat, poultry, milk, fish and eggs — so eating dulse is an excellent way for vegans or people who don't eat animal foods to get sufficient vitamin B-12. A 3.5-ounce portion of fresh dulse contains 6.6 micrograms of vitamin B-12, which is more than 100 percent of the daily value set by the FDA. A study led by Daniel Phaneuf and published in "Environmental Research" in February 1999 noted that algae is a good source of dietary fiber and vitamins, especially vitamin B-12.

Protein Content
Proteins not only help create new cells, but also play a vital role in the repair and maintenance of your body. A 3.5 -ounce serving of fresh dulse provides 21.5 grams of protein, which is 43 percent of the daily value set by the FDA. An article published in "The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry" in June 1999 noted that dulse may be a potential protein source in the human diet.
Builds Strong Bones
There are a wealth of minerals found in dulse, including calcium, magnesium, and iron, all of which contribute to bone mineral density. [2] These minerals can also help protect joints and tissues, helping to keep you stronger into your old age. If you’re concerned about developing osteoporosis, then ensuring that you have enough calcium in your diet is crucial for long-term health.

Close-up of a bowl of dried dulse seaweed flakes and whole plant on a white table
Dulse is characterized by its unique colour and the way it grows on the face of rocks. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Lowers Blood Pressure
Potassium is another of the essential minerals found in high supply within dulse. Potassium is well-known as a vasodilator, meaning that it can help reduce the strain and damage to blood vessels and arteries caused by high blood pressure. Helping to lower blood pressure also protects against atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. [3] Potassium can also help increase blood flow to the brain and capillaries, making dulse a bit of a “brain” food as well!

Eye Care
The high levels of vitamin A found in dulse make it an ideal solution for vision problems. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant and prevents free radicals from damaging the tissues of the eye and causing macular degeneration. [4] It can also slow down the development of cataracts; acting as an all-around vision booster.

Boosts the Immune System
Dulse is rich in vitamin C, thus helping the body increase its white blood cell count and contributing to growth and repair through its important role in collagen production. [5] Keeping the immune system in working order is crucial for overall health, and vitamin C is one of the easiest and most readily accessible ways to do that.

Prevents Thyroid Disorders
Although many people forget that iodine is a key part of dietary health, when your thyroid gland begins to act up, a lack of iodine is the usual the explanation. Dulse’s high iodine content can keep your thyroid gland behaving normally, helping to regulate many different hormonal interactions within the body. [6] Thyroid disorders can be disastrous to the quality of life, so proper iodine intake is more important than you think!

Improves Digestion

Similar to seaweed, dulse is very high in dietary fiber, meaning that adding it to one’s diet helps to regulate digestive processes, particularly for people suffering from constipation or diarrhea. [7] The dietary fiber bulks up the stool and stimulates peristaltic motion, while also reducing inflammation and symptoms like bloating and cramping.

Strengthens Nervous System
What many people don’t know is that polyunsaturated fatty acids are not only important for heart health, but also for the efficient functioning of your brain and nervous system. Studies have linked high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (found in good concentrations in dulse) with improved brain activity and nervous system function. [8]

Improves Blood Circulation
There is a huge amount of iron found in dulse, as in seaweed, and given iron’s role in the production of hemoglobin, adding this type of seaweed to your diet will aid in circulation. [9] Having an appropriate level of iron in the blood staves off anemia, with its unpleasant symptoms of stomach issues, headaches, cognitive disorders, and overall weakness.

Antioxidant Properties
Many of the vitamins and minerals found in dulse, both alone and in conjunction, provide a huge amount of antioxidant support against free radicals. [10] This means reduced risk of chronic diseases for those enjoying this miraculously nutritious and delicious plant!