Is Cooking With an Air Fryer Really That Healthy?

In our century, a portion of french fries or fried chicken became the highly desired meal for many people with their crispy texture and flavor. However, the enjoyable flavor of fried foods is associated with potential health risks, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, due to the oils utilized in their preparation. This is where the air fryer comes into play — a device that pledges to replicate the taste, consistency, and golden-brown appearance of oil-fried foods without the excess fat and calories. Yet, the question remains: is cooking with an air fryer really that healthy?

How does an air fryer work?

An air fryer combines elements of both a deep fryer and a convection oven. It includes a fry basket that suspends food and allows heat to envelop it from all angles, producing delightful crispiness. In other words, the air fryer enables us to create crispy dishes reminiscent of deep-fried alternatives but with significantly less oil. However, instead of submerging the food in hot oil, the air fryer exposes it to intense, circulating air, similar to that of a convection oven.

Does air-frying change the food quality?

Air frying has a major influence on food, especially in terms of flavor, texture, and health advantages. According to research, air-fried meals keep their original tastes because hot air circulates and locks in moisture during cooking. This keeps the food's familiar flavor intact without it being masked or altered in any way. Furthermore, meals that are air-fried frequently have a crunchy texture on the outside and a moist texture on the inside. The meal is made more enjoyable by the harmony of textures. By requiring very little oil, air frying cuts back the excess fat and calories while still delivering delicious, crispy results. In other words, it provides meal alternatives to anyone looking to save their diet without sacrificing taste.

Benefits of using an air fryer

The same research from 2020 proved that air-fried foods had lower fat content (from 13% to 5%) compared to deep-fried samples. If you are looking for healthier food alternatives, you may benefit from this fat decrease. Additionally, in the same study, air frying maintained the tastes and textures of food, making for a delicious meal. The color parameters were superior to deep-fried samples. When we consider all these advantages, we can say that air-frying has become a promising substitute for conventional deep-frying, providing a more healthful and delicious method to enjoy our favorite meals.

Can air frying contribute to weight loss?

Regular consumption of fried foods might be associated with obesity. Consuming fried foods more than four times a week increases the risk of obesity by 37% compared to eating fried foods less than twice weekly. This finding is unsurprising, considering that a 100-gram serving of french fries contains 2.7 grams of saturated fat, known to contribute to vascular diseases, along with 274 calories.

In contrast, a study found that french fries cooked using an air fryer contain 75% less saturated fat than those cooked using deep-frying methods. So, for weight loss, an air fryer can be a handy tool given a balanced diet and healthy living. But, this is all added up by various things combined to make an impact on weight loss, such as diet, activity, and the overall amount of calories taken. Although air frying can be part of a weight loss plan, it should be taken as a complement to other healthy practices for it to give the best effects.

Possible risks when cooking with an air fryer

So, we might consider the air fryer a healthier alternative to traditional frying methods, but is this truly the case? We know that since air fryers use minimal oil, they lower the risk of heart disease, but what about the cancer risk? The main concern for air fryer usage is its potential to produce cancer-causing agents known as acrylamides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These molecules form during high-temperature cooking, particularly deep-frying.

Although air fryers are not carcinogenic on their own, the process of air-frying may generate acrylamides and PAHs. However, due to the reduced oil usage, the production of these carcinogens is significantly minimized in air frying. Research indicates that air frying generates lower levels of acrylamides and PAHs compared to deep frying, suggesting a reduced cancer risk associated with this cooking method. However, that's not the only risk. If the device is not cleaned and sanitized properly, potentially harmful bacteria could survive on the surface. These troublesome microorganisms have the potential to cause foodborne illnesses.

4 Healthy alternatives to air fryers

If you think that an air fryer is not for your type of cooking, there are several classical cooking methods that are healthier than oil-frying and can still be used.

1. Oven-baking

You can use minimal oil while baking in the oven and preserve the nutrients and tastes of the food. It's a tasty and healthful alternative since it provides even cooking and caramelization without using too much fat.

2. Steaming

Without adding extra fat, steaming retains the nutrients, colors, and tastes of food. It provides a nutritious cooking method with less loss of nutrients while maintaining crisp textures and colorful looks. This method can be used for vegetables and seafood, particularly.

3. Stir-frying

Stir-frying cooks food rapidly and efficiently with little oil while maintaining tastes and textures. Even while the high heat may cause some nutritional loss, it's still a practical and adaptable choice for tasty and healthy meals.

4. Grilling

By letting extra fat flow out, grilling adds a smokey taste and lowers fat content. But you should be careful about the cooking period and temperatures while grilling at high degrees, as this might produce a high amount of carcinogens.

The last words

Air fryers started to appear as a main cooking device in our kitchens as a device that makes our lives easier and allows us to cook healthy, easy, and delicious meals. Research shows that we don't need to be afraid of using an air fryer yet. It provides advantages regarding obesity and cancer risk, especially compared to traditional frying techniques. However, we still need to pay attention to the usage recommendations and cleaning to avoid causing any health problems.

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