Earlier this week I spoke with Terri Coles of Reuters.com about the prevalence of sugar in the standard U.S. diet.
In essence, my standpoint is as follows: sugar in and of itself in limited quantities is not a problem.
What raises the red flag are the massive amounts being consumed -- i.e.: a single muffin at Starbucks surpasses the daily maximum recommendation -- partially because they contribute nothing but excess empty calories that do not satiate.
It's a simple concept -- the less satiated you are after a meal, the sooner you will feel hungry and want to consume more calories.
Unfortunately, keeping added sugar intake to recommended levels is difficult since food manufacturers like to put it in everything (especially in its ultra cheap form -- high fructose corn syrup).
When consumed in moderate amounts, I don't have a problem with sugar (remember, "sugar" means regular white sugar, brown sugar, honey, evaporated cane juice crystals, or any other fancy synonym).
It is an ingredient that has been consumed for tens of thousands of years.
I definitely consider it safer than Splenda, aspartame, or any other Franken-sweetener concocted in a laboratory.
In fact, I never understood sugar phobia.
The fact that some people refuse to eat fruit (due to the naturally occurring sugars), but have no problem eating a bowl of heavy cream sprinkled with artificial sweetener absolutely blows my mind.
Before I started studying nutrition, I experimented with Atkins.
Their bars -- which use sugar alcohols as sweeteners -- not only taste awful, I also remember the not-so-pleasant gastric side effects.
These days, I'll gladly take three Hershey's kisses over any low carb faux sweet treat.