Galactose also abbreviated as Gal, is a monosaccharide sugar which is about as sweet as glucose and 30% as sweet as sucrose. It is a C-4 epimer of glucose. Literally, it is a polymeric form of galactose present in hemicellulose and form core of galactans which is a class of natural polymeric carbohydrates. Galactose is a six carbon sugar or monosaccharide which associates with glucose for forming disaccharide lactose and form galactose polysaccharides in agar which is a component in various mucilages, gums and pectins and found in sugar beets.
Galactose is a simple sugar which is transformed in the liver before it is used as energy. It is abundant in human diets and assist various functions. Galactose rarely occurs as a monosaccharide in food. It usually is chemically bonded to glucose to form lactose, the primary sugar in milk and dairy products. Galactose does not occur alone in foods. It joins with glucose to create lactose, one of the three most common disaccharides. Lactose, a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose, is the principal sugar of mammalian milk and the principal carbohydrate energy source for infants and children; thus galactose plays a central metabolic role in human nutrition. Lactose is hydrolyzed in the intestine into glucose and galactose, which together with other sources of these monosaccharides are absorbed and metabolized and used as energy. Galactose additionally is an important constituent of complex polysaccharides, galactolipids, and other glycoconjugates of structural and functional importance.
Galactose is less sweet in comparison to sucrose and glucose. It is regarded as nutritive sweetener as it has food energy. Both glucose and galactose has crucial roles in joining with lipids for forming glycolipids and incorporate with proteins for forming glycoproteins. Galactolipids are vital component of membrane tissues of plants and galactose merging to form more complex galactocerebrosides acts as crucial component of membrane tissues in animal muscles or nerves.
Food Sources of Galactose
Health Benefits of Galactose
Let’s know the health benefits of Galactose:
- Acts as a prebiotic
Galactose is found in so-called raffinosefamily of oligosaccharides (RFOs) and galactose oligosaccharides (GOS). These prebiotic oligosaccharides provide good effects in the humans’ gastrointestinal tract not only by stimulating growth of intestinal microflora but also its anti-adhesive activity. Galactose oligosaccharides help to inhibit infections by enteric pathogens.
- If consumed in excess, it could be harmful to teeth.
- When used in high doses, it has mild laxative effect.
- Some people might experience side effects such as rash, itching, severe dizziness and difficulty in breathing.