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Sodium in the diet with Monica Theis – 3-minute audio

[audio:|titles=Monica Theis reducing sodium]

Monica Theis, Senior Lecturer
Department of Food Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 263-2225

3:06 – Total Time

0:19 – What the food business faces with salt
0:35 – Things being done to reduce salt
1:07 – How much sodium we actually need
1:44 – How much sodium we eat
2:01 – Be aware of salt in food
2:24 – Danger of high sodium in diet
2:46 – Salt-free potato chips
2:57 – Lead out


Salt in the food we eat.  We’re visiting today with Monica Theis, Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Sevie:  Monica, welcome to our microphone. Can you give us an idea of what the food business is grappling with when it comes to salt?

Monica: The food industry is taking a very serious look at opportunities that they can generate to reduce the sodium, but still meet the wants and needs of the consumer base.

Sevie: Monica can you give us some examples of things that have been done to reduce salts in food?

Monica: Some of the things are simply reducing the amounts. Other attempts have been to actually do substitutes, but we we run into issues with functionality, changes in the product that doesn’t behave as well as we’d like it whether it’s shelf-life or a functionality in the home if we’re using it as an ingredient, for example, and the flavor is simply not the enhanced flavor that’s sodium.

Sevie: Monica, can you give us an idea of what the actual difference is between what people eat and what they should have, for salt?

Monica: The element that we’re really concerned about in diet is sodium. And salt is very high in sodium, so really sodium intake. So the national recommendations now are that we consume no more then 2400 milligrams of sodium a day. That would be the equivalent of just over a total of two teaspoons of table salt.

Food by nature had some sodium in it and then much of our sodium comes from the the salt and sodium that’s added to processed foods.

Sevie: So, how much sodium does the average person take in in a day?

Monica: The range for Americans is between 4000 milligrams to 6000 milligrams so almost twice as much, and as high as three times as much– in that range—that we’re supposed to take.

Sevie: Do you have any advice for people trying to reduce their salt in their food?

Monica:  Simply becoming aware of what the sources of sodium are in our food. It may be surprising the amount of sodium that’s in bread, for example, just plain bread. A slice of bread can have up to 120 130 and higher milligrams of sodium.

Sevie:  Monica, can you tell us what the effects of are of high salt levels in the diet?

Monica: First of all I think it’s pretty clear that we’re simply eating too much and the risk of stroke and hypertension and things like that are very real, from a health perspective. What’s less clear, is everyone equally susceptible? The guidance is that we all reduce it, but certainly some people are more sensitive than others.

Sevie:  Do you see a day when we have salt-free potato chips?

Monica:  I think they may even be out there. The question is will we have salt-free potato chips that satisfies what a consumer appreciates as a potato chip.

Sevie: We’ve been visiting with Monica Theis, Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin and I’m Sevie Kenyon.