Aldohexose vs. Ketohexose

What's the Difference?

Aldohexoses and ketohexoses are both types of monosaccharides, which are simple sugars. The main difference between them lies in their functional groups. Aldohexoses have an aldehyde group (-CHO) at the first carbon atom, while ketohexoses have a ketone group (-C=O) at the second carbon atom. This distinction affects their chemical properties and reactivity. Additionally, aldohexoses and ketohexoses can have different arrangements of hydroxyl groups around their carbon backbone, resulting in various isomers with distinct structures and properties. Overall, both aldohexoses and ketohexoses play crucial roles in biological processes and are essential components of carbohydrates.


Chemical FormulaC6H12O6C6H12O6
Functional GroupAldehydeKetone
Number of Carbon Atoms66
IsomersMany isomersMany isomers
Ring StructureCan form cyclic structuresCan form cyclic structures
Common ExamplesGlucose, Mannose, GalactoseFructose

Further Detail


Aldohexoses and ketohexoses are two types of monosaccharides, which are simple sugars that cannot be further hydrolyzed. They both belong to the hexose family, meaning they contain six carbon atoms. However, they differ in their functional groups, which greatly impacts their chemical properties and biological functions. In this article, we will explore and compare the attributes of aldohexoses and ketohexoses, shedding light on their structures, sources, reactivity, and physiological roles.

Structural Differences

Aldohexoses, as the name suggests, contain an aldehyde functional group (-CHO) at one end of their carbon chain. This aldehyde group is responsible for their classification as aldoses. On the other hand, ketohexoses possess a ketone functional group (C=O) within their carbon chain, leading to their classification as ketoses. The position of the carbonyl group differentiates the various aldohexoses and ketohexoses, resulting in distinct isomers with unique properties.

Aldohexose Examples

One well-known aldohexose is glucose, which is a primary source of energy for living organisms. Glucose is commonly found in fruits, vegetables, and honey. Another aldohexose is galactose, which is present in milk and dairy products. Mannose, another aldohexose, is found in various fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These aldohexoses play crucial roles in cellular metabolism and are essential for the proper functioning of the human body.

Ketohexose Examples

Fructose is the most abundant ketohexose and is commonly found in fruits, honey, and high-fructose corn syrup. It is known for its sweet taste and is often used as a natural sweetener. Another ketohexose is sorbose, which is found in berries and other fruits. Xylose, although not as commonly known, is also a ketohexose found in fruits and vegetables. Ketohexoses, like aldohexoses, have important roles in metabolism and energy production.

Reactivity and Reactivity Differences

Due to the presence of different functional groups, aldohexoses and ketohexoses exhibit distinct reactivity patterns. Aldohexoses, such as glucose, readily undergo oxidation reactions, forming carboxylic acids or lactones. This property is exploited in various biochemical processes, including glycolysis and the production of reducing sugars. On the other hand, ketohexoses, like fructose, are less reactive towards oxidation due to the presence of the internal ketone group. However, they can undergo intramolecular reactions, forming cyclic structures known as furanose or pyranose rings.

Biological Significance

Aldohexoses and ketohexoses play vital roles in biological systems. Glucose, the most abundant aldohexose, is the primary fuel for cellular respiration and is essential for energy production. It is also a building block for complex carbohydrates, such as starch and glycogen. Galactose and mannose, although less abundant, are important components of glycolipids, glycoproteins, and glycosaminoglycans, contributing to cell recognition and signaling processes.

Fructose, the predominant ketohexose, is metabolized differently than glucose. It is primarily metabolized in the liver and is a major component of triglycerides, contributing to fat storage. Fructose also plays a role in the regulation of appetite and satiety. Additionally, ketohexoses are involved in the synthesis of nucleic acids and glycolipids, further highlighting their biological significance.

Physiological Effects

Consumption of aldohexoses and ketohexoses can have different physiological effects on the human body. Glucose, when consumed in moderate amounts, provides a readily available source of energy. However, excessive glucose intake, especially in the form of refined sugars, can lead to health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Galactose, although less commonly consumed directly, is converted to glucose in the body and is essential for lactose synthesis in infants.

Fructose, on the other hand, has been a topic of debate due to its potential negative effects on health. High intake of fructose, particularly in the form of added sugars, has been associated with increased risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is important to note that fructose obtained from whole fruits, which also provide fiber and other beneficial nutrients, is generally considered healthier than consuming isolated fructose or high-fructose corn syrup.


In conclusion, aldohexoses and ketohexoses are two types of monosaccharides with distinct structural and functional differences. Aldohexoses, such as glucose, galactose, and mannose, contain an aldehyde group, while ketohexoses, like fructose, possess a ketone group. These differences in functional groups lead to variations in reactivity, biological significance, and physiological effects. Understanding the attributes of aldohexoses and ketohexoses is crucial for comprehending their roles in metabolism, energy production, and overall human health.

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