What is Galactose?

Sugar beets are one of the best examples of a food that contains galactose.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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Sometimes referred to as brain sugar, galactose is a form of sugar that is understood to provide a great deal of energy in a very small amount of product. Because of its enhanced nutrient properties, many people classify the product as a nutritive sweetener. One of the versions that receives a lot of attention is galactan, which is understood to be a polymer of the substance.

Galactose is created by taking the natural substances found in hemicellulose and processing the compound by using a process of hydrolisis. With a long shelf life, it provides the same level of taste as sugar, but requires much less product to achieve the effect. However, synthesized galactose is not widely available for home use, possibly because the substance does not dissolve in liquids very easily. This property inhibits the ability to use this natural sugar in the preparation of many common home recipes. Instead, it is more commonly found in a number of commercially prepared products. Its uses are not limited to commercial foods that are meant to be sweet, since the product can also be used to temper the flavor created by acidic or overly tart ingredients.


Because galactose is a naturally occurring substance, the compound is found in several food products and can also be manufactured within the body. Dairy products tend to be a good source. Sugar beets are one of the best examples of foods that contain the compound. Many types of gum also will make use of the sugar in order to provide sweetness without a lot of additives.

Galactose is also manufactured naturally within the body as well. When it comes to lactation, part of the natural process that makes this possible is the conversion of glucose into galactose. The conversion helps to aid in the development of lactose in the mammary glands, and aids in the secretion during the nursing process.


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