There is a question both the users and intending users of air fryers continue to look for answers to; Is using an air fryer healthy? The fact that you are reading this, means you are also looking for answers to this question.
Air fryers are no doubt one of the most popular kitchen appliances based on this FIVE YEAR Google Trends Graph.
They let you enjoy air-fried meals with very little or no oil and are popularly known to cut calories gained from cooking oils.
- But how safe is the use of an air fryer?
- Is it advisable to use it for your meals as often as you can?
The answers to these questions have been collected based on proper research. And they are provided in this article for your benefit.
What technology does the air fryer use?
Air fryers often come in countertop round or square shapes. Although the market is now filled with large convection oven-like versions or toaster ovens with built-in air fryers in them.
The air fryer is designed to give your meals a crunchy, crispy outward appearance while the inside remains tender and moist, just like traditional deep-fried foods. Except with the air fryer, you only need very little or even no oil to achieve this same food texture as you would with deep frying in oil.
The air fryer allows you to carry out many cooking options like baking, frying, grilling, and toasting, all with the application of very little or no cooking oil. There are other types of air fryers that allow you to carry out other cooking functions like food dehydration. And this makes the air fryer one of the most versatile products currently offered for sale in the market.
Air fryers also allow you to make your homemade pizzas and preheat your meals without the sogginess that is likely to occur when you use a microwave. Indeed, it’s no wonder that these small appliances have gained so much popularity, even among people who do not enjoy cooking in recent times.
This process involves using a heating element, usually located at the top of the air fryer, to generate heat.
And this heat is circulated by air by a fan in a convection-like manner around the food in the air fryer basket to cook them like fried foods.
As a result of this cooking technology, air fryers tend to cook in limited batches, as free space is needed in your fryer basket to enable proper circulation of hot air for efficient and even cooking.
Some air fryers also use infrared radiation process where electromagnetic waves are generated to interact with food molecules and produce thermal energy to increase internal cooking.
During the air frying process, excess fat and grease from food are collected below the air fryer basket, minimizing fat consumption by the user.
The air fryer is definitely your best bet to enjoying fried foods without the risk of high calories consumption. But they also offer other benefits aside from reducing fat and calorie intake in foods.
What are the best foods to cook in an air fryer?
Breaded foods cook best in the air fryer. You can make chicken nuggets, bacon, steaks, fries, frozen meals, and even bananas in your air fryer. In f act, if you get an air fryer recipe book, you will find out that there are so many recipes you can cook with your air fryer.
Cooking foods dipped in a lot of batter in your air fryer, however, will not only create a lot of mess you will have to deal with after cooking, but it may also not turn out as desired with the air fryer. Hence, you may have to stick to the traditional deep frying method.
What are the main benefits of air frying to deep frying?
Summarily the following are the differences between air frying and deep frying characteristics:
|Characteristic||Air Frying||Deep Frying|
|Cooking Process||A less messy cooking process that requires very little or no oil||Submerging foods entirely in cooking oils does not only increase fat consumption, but the process can also get messy.|
|Calorie Consumption||Minimum use of oil means less calorie intake.||Increased fat in deep-fried foods increases calorie intake.|
|Formation of Toxins||Air frying is less likely to cause the production of acrylamide.||Deep frying is more likely to cause the production of acrylamide.|
|Safety||Air frying is considered safe since there is no hot oil to cause scalding or burning.||Hot oil from deep frying can increase the risks of cooking accidents.|
|Cooking Speed||Air frying cooks your meals faster than deep-frying.||Deep frying can take a while to cook food to your taste because you will need to preheat your oil before frying.|
How is air frying healthier than traditional deep frying?
Air frying is considered a healthy alternative to deep-frying mainly because of the cooking process. Air fryers require very little or no oil to cook foods, while deep frying basically entails submerging foods in cooking oil to fry.
Due to the different technologies used in cooking with the air fryer, air frying is said to be healthier than the traditional deep-frying process concerning the following:
Minimizing fat consumption and calorie intake
This difference in oil quantity also means a difference in fat consumed in the end. Since cooking oils are known to be principal sources of fat.
A comparative study on air-fried French fries and the deep-fried variant has revealed that air-fried foods have “substantially lower fat content but with similar moisture contents and color characteristics.”
And what this means is that, when you choose air frying over deep frying, you will be able to cut down on your fat consumption and subsequently reduce calorie intake.
Air frying is no doubt a healthier alternative for minimizing fat consumption and calorie intake.
Because studies have shown that the consumption of fried foods increased the risks of obesity.
There are also a variety of other diseases that have been linked to high-calorie intake, including heart diseases and inflammatory illnesses.
Reduction in the formation of Toxins
Air frying has been found to reduce the formation of toxins like acrylamide in food cooking by up to 90% compared to the traditional process of frying foods.
Acrylamide is a probable carcinogen that can form in some foods when such foods are subjected to high-temperature cooking processes like frying, baking, and roasting. And they are produced in sugars and amino acids that are naturally found in foods.
Types of cancer have been linked to acrylamide in the body by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. These cancer variants include ovarian cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. Thus, an air fryer can also be a healthier alternative to deep-frying in reducing cancer risks in human beings.
Are there any health hazards to regular cooking with the air fryer?
As much as air frying seems to be a healthy alternative to deep-frying, it cannot be said that this cooking process is ultimately the best for the benefit of your overall health.
Other factors show that air frying may not be too healthy for you, and cooking your meals with the air fryer regularly, might compromise your health in the long run. Some of these factors are:
Air frying can produce some other kinds of unsafe chemical compounds.
While it has been said that using the air fryer minimizes the formation of acrylamide in comparison with the deep-frying method, other chemical compounds that might endanger the health can still be formed even when you use the air fryer.
Air frying is a cooking process that also produces the Maillard effect. The Maillard effect is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that form certain compounds known as Maillard reaction products. And these products can be toxic or non-toxic, depending on the kinds of food being cooked.
Heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are also chemical toxins. And are formed when meat is cooked in high heat. And while air frying is known to reduce the formation of acrylamide in fried foods. The same cannot be said for these other compounds.
Air frying can also not be said to completely eliminate the formation of advanced glycation end products, which are formed due to the combination of protein or fat with sugar, in the bloodstream.
Advanced glycation end products are also produced in foods exposed to high-temperature cooking like grilling, frying, and toasting.
The body can eliminate these toxins from the system, but when consumed regularly and in high amounts, the body may not keep up with the elimination process.
And these toxins can accumulate and may end up compromising your general health condition. High levels of advanced glycation end products in the body have been linked to illnesses like premature aging, kidney failure, and heart diseases.
Some air fryers might not be totally safe for cooking.
Air fryers usually come with non-stick air fryer baskets to air-fry your foods. But many of these baskets are coated with Teflon or Teflon-like materials.
Teflon is generally a safe product to use in cooking. But when exposed to very high temperatures, it starts to break down and produces fumes and toxins that can damage your health.
Buying an air fryer with a ceramic non-stick coating is a healthier alternative to Teflon. With ceramic non-stick coating, you won’t have to worry about cooking in high temperatures or for very long periods.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many air fryers out there with non-stick ceramic coating. And if you can’t get one, you have to be very careful not to expose your Teflon coated air fryer basket to scalding cooking temperatures.
Air-fried foods are still fried foods
Air-fried foods cannot also be said to be the best alternative for your wellbeing in as much as the air frying process does not require too much oil, air-fried foods remain fried foods and still comes with the complications associated with high consumption of fried foods.
Fried foods are generally known to increase the risks of heart diseases and compromise general wellbeing in the end. Thus, while air–fried foods can be safer than deep-fried foods, it is best to regulate fried food intake and eat more fruits and vegetables to keep the body in good health condition.
You need healthy oils for your good health and general well-being.
Air fryers eliminate the need for oil as they require very little to no oil to fry, grill, or bake your foods. And many people are particularly thrilled by the idea of reducing a lot of their calorie intake that they wouldn’t mind eating air-fried foods for the rest of their lives.
Apart from air-fried foods being fried foods, you need healthy oils in moderation to improve and maintain brain and hormone health. Plant-based fats present in oils like olive and avocado oil have many health benefits that you will miss if you confine yourself to foods with no oils alone.
Avocado oil can help to improve your skin. It can also promote the healing of wounds and enhance the absorption of nutrients. And it can reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Olive oil, on the other hand, can help reduce inflammation. It is also great for preventing strokes, heart diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Conclusion: Is using an air fryer healthy?
Baking, roasting, and frying are cooking processes that are heat-intensive and can generally lead to the formation of chemical compounds that are toxic to the body. Given this and the benefits of air frying already stated above, it is safe to say that using the air fryer to make your foods is a generally healthier option.
The use of air fryers also comes with other benefits that are not related to health. These benefits include versatility, improved cleanliness, fast cooking results, and many others.
But this examination of the health benefits of air frying also shows that consumption of air-fried foods should be regulated as much as the consumption of deep-fried foods. This is ultimately the best way to protect your health and minimize the risk of related diseases and complications to the barest minimum.
Rather than indulge carelessly in air-fried foods because of less fat consumption and lower calorie intake. It is best to keep a balance between cooking processes and consume more fruits and vegetables. To further improve your immunity and prevent health complications.