Is Cooking With an Air Fryer Healthy? As they promise a healthier alternative to traditional deep frying, air fryers have quickly gained popularity. French fries, chicken wings, empanadas, and fish sticks, to name a few, are cooked with less fat. But how healthy is it to use an air fryer?
In this post, we will analyze the data to see if the advantages of using an air fryer outweigh the disadvantages.
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What Exactly Is An Air Fryer?
The air fryer permits us to prepare oil-free yet crispily cooked items that are similar to their deep-fried counterparts. On paper, this sounds amazing, and everyone should have one, but is it actually good for you?
An air fryer combines the best features of a conventional oven and a deep fryer. The fry basket in the air fryer keeps food from touching the bottom of the appliance while cooking, ensuring even browning and crispiness.
Contrary to traditional frying, this method involves exposing the meal to extremely hot, rotating air, much like a convection oven. Now that we understand how an air fryer functions, how does it stack up against more conventional cooking techniques?
Air Frying vs. Deep Frying
To reduce the intake of unhealthy fats, air frying is favored over deep frying. A few liters of oil are needed for the deep fryer, but none for the air fryer.
Overindulging in fried meals is a simple way to gain weight. However, when compared to traditional deep frying, air frying drastically reduces the amount of oil absorbed by the food. Less oil means fewer calories, which can help lower the risk of weight gain, obesity, and more when using the air fryer.
To make matters worse, heating oil contains inflammatory chemicals that can be absorbed by food. Reduced oil absorption means fewer pro-inflammatory molecules in the food we eat. Consequently, this lowers the probability that you’ll get a chronic illness like heart disease. It’s possible that consuming less oil will result in less saturated fat overall, which may further reduce the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
Air frying and deep frying both expose food to high temperatures for an extended period of time. This can enhance the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Although air frying may reduce AGE generation compared to deep frying, eating too much fried food in general has been linked to an increased risk of chronic disease development.
Yet, starchy foods like potatoes may greatly benefit from cooking in an air fryer. Air-frying takes more time than deep-frying because the starch in the food is less likely to dissolve. So, what does this entail? It’s possible that the starch is easier to digest and has less of an impact on blood sugar (though you should still be aware of carbs in your air-fried foods).
Air Frying vs. Cooking in the Oven
Food prepared in either the oven or the air fryer will have the same nutrient profile because both employ hot air as their primary heating method.
Journal of Food Science research published in 2017 suggests that air-frying fish may reduce the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (such heart-healthy omega-3 fats) in the fish and increase the number of inflammatory chemicals. Nonetheless, it is essential to remember that whenever a food is subjected to heat (i.e., cooked), its composition will change and inflammatory chemicals can emerge. According to research, roasting (and even microwaving) fish, for instance, can alter its lipid composition and contribute to inflammatory chemicals.
Even though it’s possible that the air fryer’s high heat could speed up these processes, this idea needs more research to be proven.
Is Cooking With An Air Fryer Healthy?
Finally, let’s address the issue of whether or not the air fryer can be considered “healthy.” Obviously, this question is subjective, just as is your actual definition of healthy!
As a general rule, the air fryer is preferable to deep frying. This is due to the lower calorie count and reduced inflammation it produces, both of which can have a beneficial effect on long-term health.
The answer becomes murkier when one considers the oven in comparison to the air fryer. Both appliances perform a similar job, but the former has a shorter cooking time due to its higher temperature.
Instead, the items you eat and cook in an air fryer are the true determinants of “what is healthy.” The air fryer is a healthy alternative to the oven for cooking nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and lean meats.
The air fryer is preferable to deep frying, but that’s no excuse to gorge on high-calorie items. Remember that the fundamental advantage of air frying over deep frying is the absence of oil. Thus, the benefits may not be as dramatic if you start adding considerable amounts of oil to air-fried meals.
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