If you are trying to eat better or lose weight, but crave ‘guilty’ fried food you may be wondering “is air frying healthy?” Air fryers are supposed to lower the fat content of popular foods like French fries, empanadas, chicken wings, fish sticks, and more. But is air fried food healthy?
Here we’re going to look at the pros and cons of air-fried foods to see if the benefits outweigh the risks. Plus we'll answer some of the most popular questions about healthy air frying.
What Is An Air Fryer?
If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing foods you probably know what an air fryer is. But for those of us who don’t, let’s get acquainted.
An air fryer is a popular appliance used in the kitchen to make fried foods. In fact, you could describe it as a miniature convection oven.
Air fryers were designed to be safe and easy methods of frying, to reduce the cooking oil needed for frying as well as to reduce pan fires and even injuries. The results have spoken for themselves – millions of air fryers have been sold all over the globe.
How Do Air Fryers Work?
The air fryer has a heating element radiating from the top of the air fryer. This hot air quickly gets circulated around the insides of the little oven, down the outsides, and then kind of back up through the center again.
People love having an air fryer because it is so easily placed on countertops in the kitchen. Philips is the company that originally manufactured air fryers, but since then, heaps of brands have come onto the market.
How Are Air Fryers Healthy?
If you compare deep frying to air frying and eat a lot of fried foods, the answer is YES! But before getting too excited, there is the proverbial, “but”.
Air fried food is OK if you are not really watching your health, but if you are watching your health, you have to look at the bigger picture.
First off, the foods that air frying followers gravitate towards aren’t the healthiest of foods to start with. So whether you opt for chicken nuggets, burgers, or fries, even without all the oil, they have very little nutritional value, right? The little nutrients they do have are reduced in the cooking process.
If you are someone who is serious about watching your diet and what you put into your body, it's in your best interest to invest in more fresh and whole foods.
You Eat More Poorly When You Use an Air Fryer
Air frying is nice; it’s quick if you want a ‘healthier’ plate of fries, and it beats deep fat frying for sure. But it boils down to the fact that having this fun device in your kitchen kind of encourages you to opt for the foods void in nutrients. Even though the air is convenient – it could be sending you in the wrong direction.
If you really are worried about the fat you are taking in, try and move away from air-fried foods in the first place. Switch over to the healthy fats that make your heart happy, like the oils that you find in walnuts, fish, olive oil, and avocados.
Still Healthier Than Deep Frying
If you are striving to be healthy, then the air fryer is a healthier option than deep frying…But the processed foods that you air fry aren’t going to make you a healthy person.
Your diet is the thing that needs transformation. Too many fried foods could lead to chronic health problems and early death.
Air frying can come across as if it is will improve your health. But it's only eating colorful vegetables and fruits that will make difference in your health and waistline!
Are Air Fryers Healthier Than an Oven?
Of course, as with any cooking method, it all depends on what you’re cooking and how. If you are air frying unhealthy foods or using too much oil, (especially vegetable oil) then the health benefits are going to be negated.
Stainless Steel is the Better Option
Make sure to get one with a stainless steel basket. Non-stick air fryers are made with Teflon which has PFAS or “forever chemicals” that are very bad for your health. Or at least use parchment paper liners or Silicone BPA-free liners that fit the basket.
Are Air Fryers Healthier Than a Microwave?
If you’re just reheating food in the microwave, there’s no real difference.
But if you’re cooking raw foods in the air fryer, then it’s going to be healthier than doing so in the microwave.
There is some evidence that microwaves can cause changes in the structure of molecules which could make the food less nutritious. Additionally, microwaves can create harmful radiation that has been linked to cancer risk.
Also, microwaves cook food unevenly, so there’s a greater chance of food being overcooked or burnt in some parts while remaining raw in others.
Air Fryers Are Healthier Than Deep Frying
Air-fried foods are considered a healthy alternative to deep-fried foods because they have lower fat and lower calories.
Instead of your donuts or hot chips being submerged totally into hot oil, you just let the circulating hot air do its job.
We all know that deep-fried foods are foods that are higher in fat than foods prepared in other ways.
Look at chicken for example. A chicken breast that is deep-fried will have about 30% more fat in it than the same portion of chicken if you roast it.
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Air Fryers Require Less Cooking Oil
There are manufacturers too, who will say that if you use an air fryer, you cut out all that fat in the fried chicken by as much as 75%!
It’s simply because the air fryer doesn’t use the same amount of oil to cook with as the traditional deep fryer does.
Look at recipes that call for deep frying; they will suggest using around 3 cups to deep fry upping the calorie and fat content. Whereas air-fried foods use significantly less oil -Just one tablespoon of oil to cook with. Traditional Deep fryers will use up to 50 times more oil than what an air fryer would.
If you want to trim down your waistline, you would need to swap from deep frying your food to air frying it – that would be a good place to start, anyway. As you can see, the air fryer is healthier to have in your kitchen than the deep fryer.
Toxic Acrylamide Formation
High heat cooking produces acrylamide, which is toxic.
Acrylamide is a chemical that can be found in some starchy foods that have been cooked at high temperatures, such as potato chips and French fries. A chemical reaction takes place known as the Maillard reaction.
Acrylamide has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and it has been shown to cause damage to the genetic material of cells and cancer in laboratory animals.
It is really hard to avoid acrylamide forming in food when it is fried.
Researchers found that when food is air fried, the acrylamide in it is reduced by around 90% compared to conventional deep oil frying.
How Do I Prevent Acrylamide in My Air Fryer?
So how do you prevent it? Well, the FDA has said that you should cook your foods at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. So, that’s what we suggest you do with your air fryer.
When you cook food at a lower temperature, it has less chance of acrylamide forming. So, set your air fryer to 350°F/180°C and cook for the recommended time in your recipe or user manual.
Oil Fried Foods
There are some air fryers that do certainly live up to claims of using 75% less oil than when you traditionally deep fry. But cooking oils aren’t all the same, even if you do use less oil to air fry your food.
Can’t I Just Use Healthy Oils to Air fry With?
It is a good idea to steer away from corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, and soybean oil, and also from foods that contain them. These are the oils that most people will use to prepare fried and processed foods.
These oils do contain trans-fats in them but when foods are heated, they undergo changes that are toxic. Most of these oils are also genetically engineered. Scary as hell.
Healthy Oils for Air Frying
These foods must rank as the worst foods you can eat. If you are looking for healthier foods, try olive oil, avocado, or coconut oil. Clarified butter, sesame oil, and raw butter are a healthier alternative.
Coconut oil is the only one of these oils that is OK to use under high heating and that includes frying.
People often get tempted to try olive oil for cooking and frying, but it breaks down under heat, losing all its health benefits. If you have bought an air fryer for health reasons, use another cooking oil like coconut oil or avocado
What Are the Advantages and Health Benefits of Air Frying?
- Air fryers reduce calorie and dietary fat intake
- Healthier than other high-heat cooking methods like deep frying
- They are time efficient; meaning you can cook up a chicken breast faster in your air fryer than you could in the oven
- Easy to clean
- Air frying saves time
- With kids who don’t like their vegetables, with air frying, you end up with some nice flavorful and crispy veggies, making the kids enjoy them more.
- When you air fry, there is not that smell of ‘fried foods’ lingering behind in your home.
Other Nice Things About Air Frying
Sweet potato fries are actually deliciously done by the air fryer. Sometimes it is more difficult to get them crispy in the conventional oven. Still, if you sprinkle them with some delicious seasoning before adding them to the air fryer, they are nothing short of delicious.
If that is tempting you to go out and purchase your air fryer – just look out for the ones that don’t use BPA plastics. (BPA is an industrial chemical used in making plastics).
An air fryer can also be used very well to make crunchy oat and nut toppings for your other foods. You just brush oil on the foods you want to fry and then heat your air fryer to the temperature you need.
What are the Disadvantages of an Air Fryer?
- An air fryer is inclined to make people believe that this is “healthy” – like, now we can eat fried foods every day!
- Using conventional type oils to air fry your foods means you miss out on the benefits that come from plant fats like olive oil and avocado oil. Good high-quality fat is vital for hormone and brain health.
- An air fryer is not an oven and sometimes it can be challenging to cook if you have a larger family.
So, are air fryers good for you? Well, fried foods aren’t the healthiest way to cook, but when it comes to fried foods from an air fryer, what you get is simple deliciousness, and nothing short.
Bland potatoes transform into golden delicacies and simple dough turn into baked delights. It’s all thanks to the wonders of modern technology that we have this healthier way of frying foods. It means for those who can’t give up fried foods can enjoy these types of foods when the craving hits, without all the guilt, calories, and fat.
Some super busy people love air fryers just because it simplifies the whole process of making dinner. Here are 61 Healthy Air Fryer Recipes for every meal.
So if you need a cake or a steak, this little fryer will do it for you. It’s your choice. Some people swear the food they get from their air fryer tastes just like the deep-fried stuff they get from restaurants. Others say their food doesn’t taste like the heavenly deep-fried stuff they are used to.
You get to make the choice. If you are trying to reduce your fat intake, then these air fryers will certainly keep you satisfied.