One of the latest trends in home cooking is the air fryer. Food blogs online are crawling with recipes for air fried. But as you know, just because something’s delicious doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Air fryers are touted as a healthier alternative to frying. But is it true? Let’s take a closer look.
Are air fryers a healthier alternative to deep frying?
One of the benefits of using an air fryer is that you use much less oil than with traditional deep frying. That’s possible because air fryers transfer heat through convection, as opposed to by heating liquid oil.
In convection frying only a tablespoon of oil is needed. Aiir is heated and tiny drops of oil are sprayed on the food to give it a crispy texture. That’s what forms the browned outer layer on air fried foods, without absorbing as much oil as with a deep frying method.
When compared with pan-frying method, you’re still using significantly more oil than with an air fryer.
The amount of oil soaked into the food is what makes the calorie count go up significantly. A deep fried chicken thigh is about 250 calories and 19 g of fat. Whereas an air fried one has 135 calories and 5g of fat.
There’s also the concern about the type of oil being used. When operating an air fryer at home you’re able to choose your type of cooking fat. This means you can opt for high-heat cooking oil that can stand up in hot temperatures and still be a healthy choice.
Conventionally deep fried food uses vegetable oils (often including trans fats). It turns rancid at high heat (like in the fryer) and will cause free radical damage in your body when you eat the food cooked in it.
Trans fats are linked to heart disease as well as increased systemic inflammation. Using an air fryer at home can be a way to reduce your intake of trans fats, which ultimately is better for your health.
There’s also the issue of carcinogens. Compared to deep-frying, air frying has been shown to produce significantly fewer acrylamides, which are harmful compounds that form when high-carbohydrate foods are heated to very high temperatures.
However, when it comes to cooking meat, the high temperatures of both cooking methods have the potential to form compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), especially if the meat is burned. These chemicals could increase the risk for cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The Bottom Line
Air fried foods tend to be lower in calories and fat than deep fried ones, which over time, could be a better thing for your waistline.
Air frying can also help you avoid trans fat. This is especially the case if you replace the deep fried foods you were eating with air fried options.
It can also reduce your exposure to harmful compounds like acrylamides, which have been tied to cancer.
But before we say air frying is the healthiest or a superior cooking method, there are a few things to consider.
The type of oil used will impact how healthy the cooked food is for your body. Using vegetable oils (like canola, safflower and sunflower) won’t produce a healthier result than deep frying.
Eating deep fried meat from either source produces chemicals that are harmful to our health, especially if the meat is burned.
Consuming air fried foods might be healthier than deep frying but they’re still not healthier than eating vegetables and fruits prepared in other ways.
In conclusion, the air fryer lives up to its promise as a healthier alternative to deep frying. It’s still not advised for everyday use and better to use for foods other than meat. If you usually deep fry or pan fry your foods, choosing an air fryer could be a good alternative that would help you consume less fat and still enjoy your favourites.
Ultimately, an air fryer can be a tool you use as part of a healthy diet. Just don’t forget to include the rest of the nutritious foods (and activities) that contribute to your health.