Oxidative stress that damages cellular components affects various organs including the brain. It is thus believed to play an active role in neurodegenerative diseases, wherein the intrinsic antioxidant enzymes metabolize toxic intermediates. For therapeutic purpose, instead of antioxidant enzymes, small organic compounds as antioxidants may be more effective. Here, reducing power and electrochemical behavior of some flavanols, flavanonols, flavones, flavonols and O–methylated flavonols have been estimated and confirmed by the calculated bond dissociation energy. Compared to other classes, flavonols exhibited increased reducing power that decreased with methylation of the oxygen atom in the B-ring. Gossypetin emerged as the most effective of these flavonols. Generally, compounds with two hydroxyl groups in two consecutive positions of the phenyl ring and an enolic group in the C-ring with more preference for the hydroxyl group in the ortho position with respect to each other in the catechol moiety showed major activity. 5 position of the A-ring showed the least effect on the activity. The present understanding therefore may be applied for identifying compounds to be used as scaffold for designing potent antioxidants. Graphic abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.] © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.