Lab experiments indicate that almonds have the potential to boost immune health and reduce inflammation, according to research reported Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Philadelphia.

Almonds, study presenter Dr. Giuseppina Mandalari told Reuters Health, may have a "helpful impact on the treatment of infective and chronic diseases." She said almond skins can modulate an immunological response "and positively act as novel antiviral agents."

Mandalari, from the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK, and colleagues evaluated the effects of natural and blanched almond skins on the release of immunological compounds in cells either infected or not infected with the genital herpes virus HSV-2.

The addition of natural almond skins to the cells led to a "significant decrease in HSV-2 replication, whereas other extracts did not significantly influence the replication of the virus," according to the team's meeting materials.

The study was funded by the Almond Board of California.