Hospital del Mar Research Institute Hospital del Mar Research Institute


28/01/2022 - General information

Chef Ada Parellada shares the thrill of food with the volunteers of the PENSA project.

The renowned chef gave an online session in which she explained that it is possible to eat well and healthily and still enjoy food. The talk, organised by the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute's Neurosciences programme, is part of the cognitive and social stimulation sessions for volunteers in the PENSA project on the prevention of cognitive impairment.

Can you eat healthily and still get excited about what you eat? The answer is yes. This was explained by Ada Parellada, the chef and director of Restaurant Semproniana and 2016 Creu de Sant Jordi winner, who this morning visited the facilities at the Hospital de Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) as a guest of the Institute's Neuroscience Programme. Her visit was part of the PENSA project, promoted by the programme, in collaboration with the Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Centre from the Pasqual Maragall Foundation.

Parellada gave an online session entitled The thrill of eating that was open to everyone, but particularly aimed at the volunteers of the project. The talk forms part of the cognitive and social stimulation sessions offered to these volunteers, through group meetings aimed at encouraging social interaction and providing them with resources to help them maintain an active and healthy lifestyle once the PENSA study is over.

As Dr. Rafael de la Torre, director of the IMIM's Neuroscience programme and one of the principal investigators on the study, pointed out, "Ada, in addition to being an excellent cook, is an activist, and is very active in food education for families with children, the fight against food waste, the right to food of vulnerable people and so many other causes that have to do with food quality and sustainability. These subjects are of great interest to us in the context of our studies." Indeed, one of the cornerstones of the PENSA project is the modification of people's lifestyles, including diet, to prevent the cognitive decline associated with ageing, which can lead to dementia.

In this sense, during the talk, Ada Parellada emphasised that "Of course, we have to eat healthily", but "It is also true that everyone eats in a particular way, in a special way." The chef advocated sustainable cuisine, "A conscious, seasonal, local and unpackaged diet", as well as valuing the fact of cooking, because "It is a strategy for eating well, it empowers us, makes us self-reliant and boosts our self-esteem."

Parellada gave the PENSA project volunteers the keys to shopping well, highlighting the fact that we create an emotional bond with food: it should not only be healthy and sustainable, the emotion it creates transports us to other times or moments. "This power of food culture, of gastronomy, of our cuisine, is pivotal, and it is very important to feel that you belong to a place."

The PENSA project

This study seeks to contribute to the search for effective treatments to prevent or delay the onset of dementia. It involves volunteers aged between 60 and 80 who have subjective cognitive decline, as well as the variant of a gene that is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia (variant ?4 of the APOE gene). We are studying how an intervention based on the monitoring of a healthy lifestyle (including the Mediterranean diet, physical activity and cognitive training) supplemented with a green tea component, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), affects the progression of cognitive decline.

128 volunteers take part in the study, selected from among more than 800 people who were evaluated. The project is primarily funded by the Alzheimer's Association of the United States, with the support of the Carlos III Health Institute.

You can watch Ada Parellada's speech at this link

And listen to the testimony of some of the PENSA project volunteers here:

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