Almonds could be hailed as the new "wonder food" after studies highlighted their role in reducing the risk of heart disease.
Research presented at the annual Experimental Biology meeting showed a number of reasons almonds, beyond their cholesterol-lowering effect, play an integral role in heart health.
One study evens shows they have potential to improve gut health - indicating almonds are a simple snack choice that can make a healthy difference.
Of the two studies that support the cholesterol-lowering effects of almonds, one shows almonds reduce the level of LDL cholesterol, or "bad" cholesterol, by an average of 24%.
The second study found subjects who ate almonds increased their HDL, or "good," cholesterol levels.
Further research shows almonds may lower the amount of insulin the body releases by decreasing blood sugar levels after a meal. High blood sugar and insulin levels can raise the risk of heart disease by causing damage to blood vessel walls.
Cyril Kendall, PhD, research scientist at the University of Toronto, said: "These new studies provide further evidence for almonds' ability to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
"Other research is showing almonds may improve glucose control, decrease oxidative damage, and decrease triglyceride levels, all of which may contribute to their heart health benefits."