What's It All About, Algae?

If you're not keen on meat and dairy products as sources of protein, try stirring some edible, powdered algae into a glass of water for an energy drink that's chock full of protein and nutrients and undeniably ... green.

Harvested from freshwater tanks and specially cultured ponds, spirulina and chlorella are rich in amino acids, protein and fiber, making them excellent alternatives to meat, which is high in fat and fiberless. They also contain ample amounts of vitamin B12 and beta-carotene.

Green foods are rich in chlorophyll, which appears to have health benefits for humans. For more than 40 years, chlorophyll has been an ingredient in dental products to help kill bacteria that cause mouth infection, gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. Chlorophyll may also reduce several types of inflammation ranging from sore throats to ulcers, says Paul Pitchford, author of Healing with Whole Foods (North Atlantic Books).

Although both chlorella and spirulina appear beneficial, there's little third-party research on them as dietary supplements. They can be an expensive source of nutrients — albeit one you might want to invest in if you're looking for a quick, vegetarian energy boost.

— Laurel Kallenbach

Photograph by Joe Hancock