MANILA, March 2, 2006
 (STAR) Coffee drinking gets two thumbs up from a fitness expert and a sports enthusiast as recent studies reveal the beverage contains high antioxidant levels which are beneficial to one’s health.

"We need antioxidants to battle the free radicals in the body, which can cause premature aging and other diseases," says fitness guru and regular coffee drinker Paolo Villarroel.

Antioxidants are tiny molecules that help neutralize the body’s free radicals, which attack cell membranes and the genetic material contained in cells.

They can initiate what is collectively known as oxidative stress, which has been suggested to cause aging and other degenerative diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts, age-related decline in the immune system, and degenerative disease of the nervous system.

Villarroel knows how important good nutrition is to keeping fit. He has been in the fitness industry for 15 years now, at first dabbling in basketball and bowling before deciding to put up his own fitness studio, Studio 12, in Ortigas Center and Makati City.

Villarroel is also into the endurance sport dragonboat racing. He served as the coach of Drago Pilipinas from 1992 to 1996 and returned to coaching the team last year.

Villarroel points out that apart from exercise, it is also important that one eats right. "Exercise and good nutrition make you feel better and make you look good," he says.

Coffee’s antioxidant properties are especially beneficial to athletes like Southeast Asian Games triathlon silver medalist Sandra Araullo.

The 25-year-old triathlete is a coffee enthusiast who can consume as many as six cups in a day.

"Staying healthy is especially important for athletes," Araullo says. "This is why we need to take in healthy food along with working out, and it’s good to learn that a beverage that we get to enjoy every day also gives us health benefits."

The Applied Physics major from the University of the Philippines also points out that coffee’s caffeine level is also favorable for endurance athletes like her.

"Caffeine has been found to be an ergogenic aid," she says. "This means that it can contribute to prolonged endurance time."

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Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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