Americans have a sweet tooth. Offer something full of sugary goodness, and they'll eat it. Make something that's bitter, sour or bland, and they'll add something to it that makes it sweet. Hence, the great sugar vs. artificial sweetener debate.

Which is better for you? It depends on your taste (buds). Some say all-natural sugar is the way to go (after all, it's natural). Others swear by artificial sweeteners like Splenda or (more recently) Stevia.

Science says both can be okay for you–if you use them correctly. Here's a look at both sides of the argument–as well as the key to using them both correctly, if you read all the way to the end.

The Problem with Sugar

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American consumes about a half-pound of sugar a day. That's a lot, considering that the first Americans consumed less than half that amount–and they were busy working in gardens, hunting and struggling for their survival.

The explosion in the popularity of sweets in America has led to an epidemic of health problems including diabetes, obesity and heart disease. After all, the more sugar you eat, the harder you body has to work to process it, and sugary foods tend to have more calories, which leads to obesity.

Hence, artificial sweeteners. They have fewer calories than sugar. They can taste great. And they make even the most bland-tasting foods more palatable.

The Problem with Artificial Sweeteners

Drink a diet soda, eat a reduced fat snack or drink a "healthy" coffee from a gourmet coffee shop and you're sure to "enjoy" the benefits of artificial sweeteners.

And those benefits are taste and flavor. However, the downsides could off-set the up-sides.

Some studies have linked them to serious health problems including cancer, although the National Cancer Institute says there is no sound evidence of this.

One other problem with artificial sweeteners is that they are not as filling as sugar, which is naturally filling. This may cause you to eat and drink more, offsetting the benefits of using something with fewer calories than sugar.