Can't quite quit the carbs? Don't be afraid to start small: Slashing even some of them can slash your disease risk.

A new study finds that the Mediterranean diet--a variation on the low-carb diet that still allows for whole grains, rice and even some pasta--can dramatically lower your risk for metabolic syndrome.

And that means you can lower your risk for some of the world's top killers: diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers say their analysis of 50 studies involving a combined 535,000 people finds that those who followed the diet closely had smaller waistlines, better blood pressure control, higher levels of HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides and better glucose levels than those who didn't follow the diet... or tried to, but failed.

So what else is new?

Studies have consistently found that the Mediterranean diet is far better for health and weight loss than the high-carb, low-fat diet being pushed in the United States.

And it's certainly better than a diet of fast food and processed meals.

One recent study found that a Greek-style Mediterranean diet can lower your risk of cognitive decline.

Another found that Spaniards who stuck to the region's famous lifestyle could even enjoy two or three beers a day and actually lose weight.

The one catch here is that the researchers behind the new analysis in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that the Mediterranean diet worked best in, well, the Mediterranean region.

It's not hard to see why.

Here, the diet is something people try. Some people fail at it, but even the ones who stick to it can stray.

In the Mediterranean, however, it's just part of the local lifestyle. You don't "try" the diet--you're raised on it.

And when you're raised without sugar, you don't crave it as much--and that's the real secret to Mediterranean success: the lack of sugar.

But if you want to really slash your disease risk, go the whole way and cut all your carbs, not just sugar--at least until you reach a healthy weight, then you can add some of the better carbs back into your diet.

And no matter how much--or how little--you weigh, make like a Mediterranean and keep the sugar out of your house.