Sugar Substitutes: For or Against?

According to Gourmet Live, Americans down 22 spoonfuls of sugar a day. That sounds like a lot! Do you avoid sugar? Or do you use sugar substitutes? What's your take on the whole issue?

The tasty white stuff packs a whopper of a calorie punch and is often blamed for disease and illness, so increasingly people are starting to look towards sugar substitutes to get the sweetness they like without the calories and health risks.

But how exactly are these sugar alternatives made? Writer Julia Savacool explains that "the products are created by chemists in a lab, isolating molecules that allow them to greatly enhance the sweetness properties of the substance while forming structures that pass through the body virtually unabsorbed (hence lower in calories)."

My quips with artificial sweeteners are that some have a downright chemical taste and I fear years down the road we're going to learn they're not, in fact, safe for consumption. I do often try and incorporate honey, agave, and turbinado sugar when I bake instead of straight white sugar, but I rarely reach for the sugar alternatives.

How about you? Do you have any hesitations when it comes to the alternatives? Which do you reach for?

Related: Blogging Cook's Illustrated: Quick and Easy Sugar Substitutes

(Image: Flickr member GoodNCrazy licensed under Creative Commons)