Many air fryer users will agree that the air fryer is a product that has brought so much relief to many people, as they can now enjoy fried foods with very little or no oil used. But have you ever asked yourself: “how does an air fryer work without oil?”
You may have also wondered if frying without oil is a healthy food choice. The air fryer is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances you can buy because based on your product choice, you get to fry, bake, grill, roast, toast, preheat, and even dehydrate your foods in one appliance.
Many air fryer manufacturers state that their air fryers can fry foods up to 90% oil-free. And many users are excited about enjoying fried foods without having to use cooking oils, which can increase their calorie intake. But how safe is the regular consumption of air-fried foods without the use of oil?
Whatever your fears are regarding how the air fryer works and whether or not frying without oil is healthy will be addressed in this article. And answers provided have been well researched to give you the best information you can get on how the air fryer works and how safe it is to consume foods with very little or no oil.
How does an air fryer work without oil?
An air fryer is indeed a kitchen appliance that lets you enjoy air-fried foods with very little or no oil. The air fryer uses a cooking technology that fries your foods so that they are crispy and crunchy on the outside, while the inside remains tender and juicy, just like your deep-fried foods.
The air fryer can work without oil because it uses a technology best described as rapid air technology. Air fryers have a heating element at the top, and it is through this heating element that the heat used in cooking your foods is generated, but they also come with a fan feature that blows this heat around your food to achieve the fried texture you also get with your deep-fried foods. The heat generated by the heating element when cooking in the air fryer is transferred in a convection-like manner. And this is why air fryers are often said to work similarly to convection ovens.
There are also air fryers that use an infrared radiation process. But these types of air fryers are not very common. The infrared radiation process is a process that involves the generation of electromagnetic waves to interact with food molecules to produce thermal energy to increase internal cooking.
It is also necessary to know that excess fat and grease from food is often collected below the air fryer basket during the air frying process. And this further reduces oil in foods and minimizing consumption of fat by the user.
What factors contribute to the efficient cooking of foods in the air fryer without oil?
Because of the rapid air technology used in the air frying process, cooking in an air fryer is best achieved when you consider and stick to the following cooking tips:
Avoid overfilling your air fryer basket with food.
Air fryers are known to cook in limited batches because you cannot afford to fill up your air fryer baskets when you want to cook. This is because the rapid air technology requires some free space in the fryer basket to enable even heat distribution and ensure proper and even frying of foods.
Shake food at intervals
The air fryer also cooks more efficiently when you shake your air fryer basket in between cooking for more even heat distribution. It is not uncommon to find that some air fryers even come with a shake reminder feature to remind you to shake your basket before the cooking process is completed.
Use perforated liners and pots only.
If you are frying foods in your air fryer in a silicone pot. Or you are using parchment paper or liners to line your air fryer basket before cooking in it. You should ensure that such materials are perforated. Or they have been designed for air fryers to enable proper hot air circulation during the cooking process. Proper hot air circulation is the most relevant requirement for air-fried foods to turn out well cooked and deliciously tasty.
Is it healthy to eat foods air-fried without oil?
Air fryers are most popular because they are believed to provide a healthier alternative to deep-frying, which requires you to submerge your foods in hot oil to fry them.
Eating air fried foods without oil is considered healthy for the following reasons:
Minimized fat consumption
Cooking oils are considered a common source of fat. And this is one of the reasons many users of air fryers enjoy using their products. Because they get to enjoy that crunchy and juicy taste of fried foods more often without increasing their fat consumption.
Reduced calorie intake
If you are trying to lose weight, replacing your deep-fried meals with air-fried foods can help you reduce your calorie intake since air-fried foods have lower amounts of fats by the cooking process. This can help guard against obesity and related illnesses like heart diseases and inflammatory diseases.
Reduction of toxin formation
One thing air frying is known to prevent is the formation of a chemical compound known as acrylamide. Acrylamide is often formed in deep-fried foods from having to preheat oil before the frying process. Acrylamide could still form when you cook with the air fryer, but this is less likely to occur than cooking your foods with the traditional air frying method.
Acrylamide has been linked to different types of cancer from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Possible cancers that can develop from an accumulation of acrylamide include pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and esophageal cancer. This also makes air frying without oil a healthier alternative to deep frying in oil.
Other benefits of frying food without oil that is not health-related include ease of cleaning since the cooking process would naturally be less messy. And faster cooking, since the air fryer is made to heat up and cook food faster than the traditional deep frying.
How often can I eat air-fried foods without oil?
While it can be said that consumption of air-fried foods is a healthy alternative to deep-fried meals for the above reasons. It is necessary to bear in mind that air-fried foods are also fried foods that should be consumed in moderation, especially for the following reasons:
It is not guaranteed to completely eliminate the formation of toxic chemical substances.
Air-fried foods are not totally healthy because the cooking process might lead to the formulation of other toxins. Some of these toxins include heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. They are often formed when meat is subjected to very high temperatures and can also cause injury to human health.
The fact that your air fryer basket might be coated with Teflon or Teflon-like material is another reason you have to watch how often you cook with it. Chemical compounds in Teflon can break down under very high temperatures.
And when this happens, it will not only produce fumes that are hazardous to your health, but it can also dangerously compromise your food quality.
Most air fryers come with Teflon coated frying baskets, and there are very few brands that produce fryer baskets with ceramic coating, which is safe to use under high cooking temperatures.
Some cooking oils can be of benefit to your health.
While air-fried foods without oil are considered healthy to eat, depriving yourself of some cooking oils will also deprive you of some health benefits.
Avocado oil, for instance, is a plant-based oil that is rich in oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that can do your heart a lot of good. Avocado oil can help your physical wounds to heal faster. It can reduce symptoms of arthritis and enhance the absorption of nutrients.
Olive oil is also a cooking oil that can benefit your overall health in several ways. It is filled with antioxidants that can help protect you from chronic illnesses like cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases.
Beneficial oils like these are reasons it is not advised that you should totally avoid using oils in your cooking because the air fryer appliance has made this possible. You should regulate your diet and ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs to remain healthy.
Having discovered how the air fryer works without oil and learning the health benefits of eating foods without oil.
You can see that the best thing to do is to maintain a balance between air-fried foods and deep-fried foods since there are also benefits to be derived from deep frying.
There is also the need to maintain a balance between fried foods and other cooking methods like boiling, stewing, and the consumption of fruits and vegetables because, in the end, this is the best way to improve and maintain your overall health and general wellbeing.