Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Salt and the glycaemic response.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 28 June 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:1697
  1. A W Thorburn,
  2. J C Brand,
  3. A S Truswell


    The possibility that salt increases plasma glucose and insulin responses to starchy foods was investigated. Six healthy adults took four morning test meals randomly: 50 g carbohydrate as cooked lentils or white bread, with or without 4.25 g of added salt (an amount within the range of salt found in a meal). When salt was added to the lentils the incremental area under the three hour plasma glucose curve was significantly greater than that for lentils alone (43.2 mmol.min/l v 11.1 mmol.min/l (778 mg.min/100 ml v 200 mg.min/100 ml]. When salt was added to bread the peak glucose concentration was significantly higher than that for unsalted bread (6.96 mmol/l v 6.35 mmol/l (125 mg/100 ml v 114 mg/100 ml], and this was followed by relative hypoglycaemia. Plasma insulin concentrations at 45 minutes were higher after a meal of salted lentils and salted bread than after the unsalted foods (p less than 0.05). The high insulin concentration after salted bread was sustained for one hour after the meal, thus the mean area under the three hour curve was 39% greater than that for unsalted bread (p less than 0.05). Salt may increase the postprandial plasma glucose and insulin responses to lentils and bread by accelerating the digestion of starch by stimulating amylase activity or accelerating small intestinal absorption of the liberated glucose, or both. The findings of this preliminary study, if confirmed by others, would support the recommendation that diabetics, as well as the general population, should reduce their intake of salt.