Algae is a green ocean plant used as a food and an additive. A variety of modern products contain algae. Chances are you eat algae every day without realizing it. Algae is used to thicken foods and boost healthy bacteria. It is also added to many medicines and toothpaste.
According to the University of California at Los Angeles, a type of algae called carrageenan is commonly added to dairy products to give them a denser consistency. The most common algae containing products are sour cream, chocolate milk and cheese.
The Hawaii Department of Education says algae is often added to liquids to make them thicker. For example, algae is put in shakes and malts to thicken them. It is also added to mayonnaise to prevent it from becoming runny. Alginic acid contained in algae acts as a stabilizer or emulsifier.
The green paper-like substance used to wrap sushi rolls is algae. This is a special "leafy" variety of algae grown on farms in Asia and shipped throughout the world. The leafy algae is grown on strings then dried in the sun. This types of algae is especially high in vitamins and nutrients.
Gelatin contains a type of algae called agar. It can solidify just about anything that comes in a liquid form. Agar was first used in China in the 17th century and is now found in hundreds of foods sold in grocery stores, such as pie crusts, pumpkin pie filling and flavored gelatin.
While toothpaste is not a food, it is a safely ingestible substance that contains algae. Without algae, toothpaste would be a runny liquid. Algae makes toothpaste into a semi-solid that then dissolves with the brushing action of cleaning teeth.