Maple syrup was used as food and medicine by the native American Indians. Analysis shows it to be high in the trace minerals zinc and manganese, both important contributors to our immune systems. As well as bing an anioxidant, zinc has other functions that can decrease the progression of atherosclerosis. Manganese is an essential cofactor to a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese.