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Should you cut sweets completely? Study weighs benefits of no-sugar diet

Consumer Reports addresses health risks of natural, added sugars

ORLANDO, Fla. – Some new diets are calling sugar addictive, but should people cut it out of their diet completely?

Consumer Reports answered concerns about the health risks of both natural sugars and added sugars.

First, sugar cravings are real. Just mentioning cheesecake, apple pie or ice cream can make you want to pick up a favorite dessert.

But the truth is that sugar is low in nutritional value and high in calories. Eating too much of it can cause serious health problems.

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"We're talking about high blood pressure, stroke, even some cancers," said Ellen Kunes, Consumer Reports health editor.

Kunes also said sugar consumption is connected to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and weight gain.

So what are the guidelines for how much sugar a healthy person can eat? 

Sugars found in fruits, milk and other whole foods are generally fine. When you see added sugars, beware. They are everywhere.

Added sugars should make up 10 percent or less of your daily caloric intake. That's about 10 teaspoons on a 1,600-calorie-a-day diet.

Many people turn to low-calorie sweeteners, but according to some research, they do little to help with weight loss and may actually promote weight gain. They have also been linked to possible heart problems and Type 2 diabetes.

"If you're trying to get yourself off sugar, substitutes can be a useful tool, but just for a limited amount of time," Kunes said.

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Consumer Reports recommended limiting both.

And if you are trying to track your sugar intake, start with nutrition labels.

In January, nutrition labels will change, listing both natural sugars and added sugars.