This is a big controversy, but also one of my favorite topics... Should I choose sugar over artificial sweeteners? What are the long term effects of artificial sweeteners? Are those chemicals bad for my body? There are so many questions asked and so much research, but answers vary. People are becoming more concerned with the long term effects of the use of artificial sweeteners, but there is limited scientific evidence because not enough time has been available to know for sure. However, there are eight non-nutritive (artificial) sweeteners that have been Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA: Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame-potassium (Ace-K), Sucralose, Neotame, Advantame, Steviol glycosides, and Lou Han fruit extracts. The FDA website is a good source for learning more about those! So not to worry! These sweeteners are safe for consumption.
The main difference between sugar and non-nutritive sweeteners is CALORIES! Artificial sweeteners are great for those trying to watch carb/sugar intakes. The problem most people have though is the taste. People want the taste of sugar, but not the calories. I personally enjoy putting sugar in my coffee and tea occasionally, but I usually use Truvia (comes from Steviol glycosides) to avoid the added sugar and calories. My advice for those trying to watch added sugar intakes, blood glucose, carbs, etc. is to try different sweeteners because some taste better than others and it is all about personal preference. Artificial sweeteners are also MUCH sweeter than sugar. They can be 200-400 times sweeter, so a very small amount is usually sufficient.
Calories from sugar can add up quickly, so it's important to monitor your sugar intake because sugar is naturally found in foods, and when eating processed foods with added sugars it adds up calories! Using artificial sweeteners in cooking/baking can be tricky, but definitely something to consider! The artificial sweeteners can alter the taste, appearance, and texture of foods, so it may take a little experimenting to find what works best! From experience, granulated Splenda works well; Splenda also makes Sugar Blend, which is half Splenda and half sugar. I've never tried it, but it may be worth a shot!