What is Galactose?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

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.

Sugar beets are one of the best examples of a food that contains galactose.
Sugar beets are one of the best examples of a food that contains galactose.

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.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Robottom-- I'm sure there is galactose in your fruit juice if you use sugar beets. Beets are truly very beneficial in so many ways. And it may also explain why you feel more energetic but then again, it could be due to the vitamins as well.

You can also get galactose from dairy, so you should try to incorporate dairy into your regular diet as well.


@fify-- Actually, galactose is less sweet than fructose and glucose, so I don't think that it will replace these sweeteners in food because more galactose will be needed to get the equivalent sweetness of these.

But, both glucose and lactose can be made from galactose and I think the real value of galactose lies in this. That's what happens with breast milk as well. Some glucose is changed into galactose in the body, to eventually form into lactose.

Especially galactose and lactose are very similar. In fact, scientists at first confused the two and galactose was called "lactose" for some time until further studies showed their difference.


Glucose, fructose, lactose -- most of us know about these sugars and what they are found in. But galactose is very much a foreign term for most people. I remember hearing it in science class but I had forgotten all about since it's not something I hear often. But other sugars like fructose (fruit sugar) and lactose (milk sugar), I hear about all the time.

It sounds like galactose is a great sugar. It's efficient and apparently useful too. Why can't scientists find a way to make it dissolve in liquids? I bet galactose would quickly replace other sweeteners on the market if that happened.


Hmm, I wonder if galactose is released when you juice sugar beets. I drink freshly prepared beet juice -- mixed with ginger, apples, carrots, kale or whatever other fresh veggie or fruit that I have on hand -- roughly three times per week.

I started juicing because of a genetic predisposition to colon/stomach cancer and heart disease. Well, I noticed on the days that I drink beet juice, my energy levels soar almost immediately, and I experience elevated energy levels throughout the day. I also sleep much more soundly. I wonder if galactose is the constituent in beet juice that is responsible for this enhanced state of well-being.

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