Some scientists believe that tea's beneficial effects may be the result of the naturally occurring compounds in tea called flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. In the body, antioxidants are believed to work to neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals that, over time, can damage cells and tissues and contribute to chronic disease. Interestingly, laboratory research indicates that tea has similar or higher antioxidant power than many fruits and vegetables.

While tea should not be considered a substitute for fruits and vegetables, it may be a valuable addition to a healthy, well-balanced diet. Studies suggest that the flavonoids and other natural components in tea may also be beneficial in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and supporting dental health.