What Can I Use Instead of Dulse Flakes? 5 Dulse Substitutes - Maine Coast Sea Vegetables

Dulse flakes have become  an extremely popular product, but it’s also the product that we are most likely to run out of. There are a few reasons for this, but a big one is that demand has surpassed the availability of the resource for a number of years now. All of the dulse that we sell is wild-harvested and therefore the amount that can be sustainably harvested annually is finite and directly impacted by other factors of mother nature such as storms and warming water temps. It’s important that future generations can benefit from eating dulse to the same extent that we can today. This is why we have order limits on dulse as well as several other popular items in our store.

One of the major reasons why dulse flakes became so popular is due to Medical Medium’s Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie recipe which includes a small handful of Atlantic dulse. Since the release of Medical Medium’s first book, our sales for dulse flakes has grown and continues to grow with the release of each new book and talking tour. The association of dulse flakes to Medical Medium has also led to some confusion, however. Over the years, our customer service team has received many phone calls asking how much dulse goes into “the detox smoothie” assuming we are affiliated with Medical Medium in some capacity.

To clear any confusion, we do not have a business relationship with Medical Medium nor do we fully support all of the claims provided in his books. That said, we appreciate Medical Medium in recognizing Maine Coast Sea Vegetables as a top provider of high-quality dulse and other sea vegetables from the North Atlantic. It is unrealistic, however, to assume we can supply the whole world with dulse. We encourage people interested dulse that are outside of North America to find suppliers in Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, France and Spain as well. As a company, we have maintained organic certification since 1992; established as the first certified organic seaweed company in the United States. In addition to our Organic Certification, we voluntarily send out samples of our products to various labs that test for pesticides, petroleum residues, heavy metals, radioactivity, and microbial contaminants. These efforts have helped to make our company one of the most trusted companies in the industry.

Why dulse?

The addition of dulse (Palmaria palmata) in the Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie is claimed by Medical Medium as a chelator of mercury and other heavy metals from the body. Though Medical Medium does not source his medical claims to science, there is some research indicating that this may be a possibility.

By increasing the amount of radical-scavengers such as antioxidants in the body, it is possible to remove the negative effects of heavy metal toxicity as well as chelate the harmful metals from the body. (1) Certain polysaccharides, polyphenols, pigments, and proteins and peptides have been shown to boost antioxidant activity. All of which, seaweeds are rich in. One study using red seaweed (Rhodophyta) extracts, showed preliminary evidence that red seaweeds (including dulse) provided excellent radical-scavenger activity. This same study actually found that extracts from the sea moss Kappaphycus alvarezii provided better free radical scavenging activity than dulse and theorized that the sulfated polysaccharide carrageenan found in K. alvarezii may have added the additional antioxidant effects. (2)

It’s unclear how Medical Medium landed on dulse as the best sea vegetable for the detox smoothie, but it is clear that dulse is not the only sea vegetable with radical-scavenger potential.

Another study found Hizikia fusiformi, a brown seaweed, to be an excellent radical-scavenger and found that total polyphenolic content in seaweeds had a positive correlation with radical-scavenging potential. (3) Brown seaweeds (Phaeophyceae) such as kelp, alaria, rockweed, and bladderwrack tend to have more polyphenols than red or green seaweeds (Chlorophyta)

To avoid having a depleted stock of dulse to sell at certain times of the year, we do our best to ration dulse sales throughout the year. Sometimes this involves pausing dulse sales, which may result in leaving many pantries and detox smoothies dulse-less for a time.

You may be wondering if there are any dulse substitutes out there in the world for the occasions when dulse is hard to find, and we believe there are! Below we provide several other sea vegetable options that you may find to be good substitutes for dulse flakes.

Sea Lettuce Flakes

sea lettuce cropped

Sea lettuce (Ulva sp.) is a green sea vegetable that is packed with nutrition and has a host of potential health benefits. Taste-wise, sea lettuce is slightly more bitter than dulse. This is because sea lettuce is very high in sulfur much like garlic, asparagus, or Brussel sprouts. Nutritionally, sea lettuce has a similar amount of protein and a similar amount of iron compared to dulse, but sea lettuce is much higher in magnesium and calcium and much lower in iodine and potassium than dulse. In addition, sea lettuce was found to be a great source of polyphenols at about 39.2 milligrams per 100 grams of dried seaweed. (4)

You can compare the nutritional value sea lettuce and other dulse substitutes to dulse on our nutrition page.

Laver Flakes

Laver (Porphyra umbilicalis), also called “Wild Atlantic Nori” is a red sea vegetable making it more closely related to dulse than other substitutes on this list. Laver has a sweet and nutty flavor, and like dulse, is used both raw and cooked in many recipes. Laver stands out compared to other sea vegetables as being high in protein and also a good source of many b vitamins.

Icelandic Kelp Blend Powder

Icelandic Kelp Blend Powder

Icelandic kelp blend powder (IKB) is a blend of 3 North Atlantic brown seaweeds Laminaria hyperboreaAscophyllum nodosum, and Laminaria digitata. Brown seaweeds, like dulse, tend to be rich in glutamate bringing a strong umami (savory) flavor to many dishes. (5) Among being a rich source of sulfated polysaccharides like fucoidan, brown seaweeds tend to be much higher in polyphenols than red and green seaweeds.

Triple Flakes Blend

Triple Flakes Blend

Triple blend flakes might be the best substitute on this list. Triple Blend Flakes is a blend dulse, sea lettuce, and laver. Instead of using 100% dulse, you can get the benefits of 3 nutritious sea vegetables instead!

Dulse Whole Leaf, Granules, or Powder

Dulse mill size comparison

Another option for dulse seekers are the whole leaf, powder, and granules forms. While dulse flakes are not always available, sometimes the other options are in stock. Be sure to review our entire dulse collection before you assume that dulse is completely unavailable!

Nutrition & health