It never fails.

You're out and about... hunger pangs strike... and you're up a creek without a snack.

It's a good reminder to always keep a healthy on-the-go nibble in your knapsack or purse.

But even though the usual suspects like dried fruit, trail mix, and granola bars carry well, they're typically PACKED with enough sugar to spike your blood sugar -- and set you up for another crash later on.

A better choice would be fiber-filled, protein-packed, and low-carb NUTS -- and according to a pair of new studies, they don't just fill you up and hold your blood sugar steady.

They also slash your risk of heart disease!

In the first study, Swedish researchers surveyed over 60,000 people about their eating habits and then tracked their cardiovascular health for the next 17 years.

By the end of the study, it turned out that those who ate nuts most frequently had a LOWER risk of multiple cardiovascular diseases -- including heart attack, heart failure, atrial fibrillation (a.k.a. "A-fib"), and abdominal aortic aneurysm -- than those who rarely or never ate nuts.

And after the researchers controlled for various factors such as diabetes and family history, they found that of all the cardiovascular diseases they studied, nuts slashed the risk of A-fib the most.

In fact, those who noshed on ANY kind of nuts three or more times a week lowered their chances of A-fib by almost 20 percent.

Now, we know that the irregular, rapid heartbeat that comes with A-fib is commonly triggered by high blood pressure (a.k.a. "hypertension").

And in the second study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that people with hypertension who supplemented their diets with walnut powder were able to lower their BP more than control group members who didn't.

The study also found that the walnut eaters had higher levels of potassium and lower levels of sodium in their urine than the controls, a ratio that's known to bring down BP and protect against A-fib , too.

And that's likely because walnuts -- as well as almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and anything else you'll find on an unsalted mixed-nut tray -- are PACKED with potassium but have barely a trace of sodium.

Nuts are also high in heart-healthy magnesium, fatty acids, and disease-fighting antioxidants like folate and vitamin E, which benefit your gut and your brain, too.

By the palmful, nuts really are nature's most perfect snack -- but you can also toss them into salads, sprinkle them over Greek yogurt with fruit, or add them to veggie dishes.

Just choose the raw or dry-roasted kind... and steer clear of nuts drenched in candy coating!