Free radicals are unstable, highly reactive molecules. Though they occur naturally in your body, they can also be formed in response to excess pollution, too much sunlight and exposure to cigarette smoke. Once formed, they attack other molecules in the body leading to cell damage and, more critically, often attacking the DNA itself within your cells. Some scientists believe that this type of free radical action has been implicated in certain chronic and ageing diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants are chemicals that have a strong preference for neutralising these damaging free radicals. So once a free radical forms in your body, it will quickly react with antioxidants in your blood and cells before it has a chance to damage your cells or their DNA.
Tea leaves and buds have one of the highest total flavonoid contents of all plants at 15%. These types of chemicals are also naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, which has led to the correct belief that a diet high in vegetables can reduce cancer risks. However a typical cup of white or green tea has more flavonoid antioxidants than over 5 meal sized portions of fruit or vegetables!