What Is Galactose & What Foods Can I Find It In?

3D-model of Galactose (src)

Galactose is a monosaccharide. It is a sugar that is about as sweet as glucose.

That is about 30% of the sweetness from sucrose.

Because of this, galactose is not generally used as a sweetener.

Galactose is a component of lactose, which makes it a vital nutrient for newborn infants and young children.

Table of Contents

Galactose Provides Energy

Galactose is a monosaccharide sugar and has the same chemical formula as glucose.

But galactose has different properties compared to glucose.

Galactose is an energy-providing nutrient. (source )

Benefits Of Galactose And MOS

Galactose is one of the main components of milk oligosaccharides (MOS) that play important roles in the regulation of gut microbiota and the immune system, and can improve the immune system.

MOS are important components of the human milk that are digested by specific bacteria in the human intestine.

Some of the MOS can inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

You can read more about the benefits of galactose in Galactose: 4 Research-Backed Benefits

Galactose For Infants

Galactose is crucial for human metabolism. (source )

Galactose in the form of lactose is a vital nutrient for newborn infants and young children.

During the first few weeks of life, the infant's immature digestive system cannot utilize lactose but rather requires galactose for normal growth.

The galactose is then metabolized by the body to form lactose, which is then utilized by the infant.

Without galactose in the diet, the infant can become irritable, lethargic, and experience jaundice.

In human breast milk, the lactose content is about 7 g/dL, and in cow’s milk, the concentration is approximately 5 g/dL. (source )

Galactose In The Body

Digestion of galactose is transported through the hepatic portal vein directly to the liver.(source )

Galactose is found in abundance in mammalian milk and is present in large quantities in human breast milk.

But galactose is also found in most living cells, including yeasts and bacteria. (source )

Galactose Is Not That Sweet

The major dietary source of galactose is lactose. Lactose is found naturally in milk and dairy products and in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. (source )

Even though galactose is a sugar, it is not generally used as a sweetener because it’s only about 30% as sweet as sucrose. (source )

Its sweetening ability is not that high and its mouthfeel is not that pleasant. However, it can be used as a sweetening agent in the food industry, especially in the production of dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and milk powder.

Foods You Can Find Galactose In

You find Galactose mostly in snacks, sweets, dairy and egg, and vegetable products.

Examples of food sources include

Foods in our nutrition tool

You can find regularly updated top-ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool.

If you are interested in what foods contain the most Galactose, we recommend you visit our tool.

Here's our top-ranked list of foods that contain Galactose.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

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Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.