THE BRONX - Picking between a natural or artificial sweetener can be a tough choice.

Registered dietitian Dr. Tonya Hunt, of St. Barnabas Hospital, says regular sugar, sugar in the raw and honey all metabolize the same way in the body.

She says people want to avoid the calories and carbohydrates from natural sugars, so they turn to artificial sweeteners.

Hunt says people should try to avoid them because there isn't enough research to show all the long-term effects.

She says out of all of the artificial sweeteners, stevia is likely the best to use because it's the only one that's considered plant-based.  

Another alternative is having dates and figs, which can soaked for 10 minutes in hot water. They also have fiber and minerals that can’t be obtained from regular sugar.

The National Heart Association and National Diabetes Association recommends not exceeding more than 100 calories of added sugar for women and 150 calories for men per day.