Since its inception in the market, air frying looked like the hottest appliance in the market. Advertised as an appliance that allows you to enjoy fried food without worrying about the harmful effects of it, it makes you as yourself, “is air frying healthy?”
By mid-July of 2020, thousands of social media users were sharing their new air fryer and the dishes they cooked with it.
Consider the context, it was the during the height of the pandemic. One, practically all fast-food establishments were closed. Second, the advocacy of health awareness was as loud as ever. This is where one of the top air fryer benefits come in. Now that there is an appliance advertised to make fried food healthy, two demands—for fried food and health—are met all at once.
Despite all the attention it got online, there were a few people skeptical about the air fryer’s unique selling point.
First, some people argued that air fryers produce a lot of chemicals to make the food taste better. Second, they expressed concerns about food being cooked containing potential cancer or toxins. Some people were generally unsure if air fryers were as healthy as advertised.
To better understand air fryers, this article will go through how an air fryer works, how they compare to other cooking methods, and all the air fryer benefits and side effects.
How it works
The top part of an air fryer holds a heating mechanism and fan. On the bottom, there is a basket similar to what is seen in deep fryers that is pulled out from the air fryer. This is where the food is placed. When turned on, hot air is circulated around the food, making it crispy and adding color but with substantially less oil used.
To get started, you place the food in the basket and add some one to two tablespoons of oil. The size of the basket varies.
Next, you set the timer and temperature. Just base it on the instructions laid out in whatever recipe you are following. If now, cooking time should take half an hour or less at a temperature of 205 degrees Celsius or less.
Finally, you can put your feet up, chill around your house and lot and let the air fryer do the rest though for some foods, you may need to flip or move the food around.
Do not forget to clean the air fryer after using. These appliances require high cleaning maintenance.
Comparing air frying with other methods
Air fryers are primarily manufactured to be a healthier alternative to deep frying. It was not meant to replace other cooking methods like baking, grilling, and roasting.
Now, focusing solely on fried food, it contains way more fat than food cooked in different methods.
To illustrate, 100 grams (g) of fried and battered chicken breast contains 13.2 g of fat compared to just 0.39 g of fat in an oven-roasted chicken breast. The cooking method of deep frying adds more fat to the chicken.
Nevertheless, people would generally flock to the much tastier fried chicken over the oven-baked chicken.
Since it is the oil that makes fried food fattier, it can be safe to conclude that an air fryer is healthier just on the basis that less oil is used.
As mentioned above, around a tablespoon or two will suffice while for deep frying, the whole pot is filled with oil.
For a person looking to be healthier, lowering your oil intake is beneficial to your health by reducing the risk of heart disease and inflammation, to name a few.
That being said, this does not conclude that air frying is healthier than other cooking methods like baking, roasting, or grilling. The aforementioned cooking methods are still healthier and capable of making food delicious. They just do not provide the flavor, texture, and color of deep frying.
Air fryer benefits
Air fryers provide a lot of practical and health benefits for its user.
First, air fryers promote weight loss due to the reduced oil intake. High consumption of fried foods is strongly correlated to higher obesity rates.
Making the switch to from deep-fried foods to air-fried foods, thereby reducing regular intake of unhealthful oils can promote weight loss.
Second, air fryers are much safer in terms of the hazards that popping hot oil possesses. When deep frying and the temperature gets too hot, the oil can shake and pop violently which may splash on your skin and harm you.
On the other hand, an air fryer can get hot, but since the basket is placed inside the fryer, there is no threat of scalding hot oil splashing on you. As long the instructions are followed, you should be fine.
Third, air fryers reduce the risk of toxic acrylamide forming. In high-heat cooking methods, particularly deep frying, a dangerous compound, acrylamide, is formed.
According to the National Health Institute, acrylamide can potentially develop cancer, including ovarian, pancreatic, and breast cancer. In addition to this, acrylamide is generally considered to be carcinogenic.
By switching to air frying, people can lower the risk of having acrylamide in their food.
Air frying drawbacks
As with everything, along with the pros of air frying are its fair share of cons.
One, air frying takes much longer than deep frying. To cook French fries, it takes nine minutes to deep fry while 21 minutes to air fry. Along with this, deep frying provides better flavor, color, and texture.
Two, air frying does not guarantee a healthy diet. Health experts advocate reducing fried food intake altogether. Continually using an air fryer to eat fried food counteracts the healthy benefits advertised by using an air fryer.
The ideal diet remains — balancing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, all while reducing fatty and oily food.
Three, air frying may contain other harmful compounds. While air frying reduces acrylamide, it still produces some of it. Moreover, air frying may produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines. All of the compounds stated above are associated with cancer.
As of right now, there has not been enough research on air frying and the compound they potentially produce.
And last but not least, it cannot be stressed enough that air fried food is still fried food. While air fried food can still be healthier than the latter, eating fried food will always put you at the risks associated with fatty and oily foods.
All in all, an air fryer is a great way to enjoy fried food healthily. You get almost the same results as deep-fried food with substantially less oil used. Unfortunately, since the food was still fried, habitually eating this using your air fryer is unhealthy and will put you at cardiovascular risk.
Just because you used an air fryer does not mean that the food you cooked is healthy. The operative term is balance. You should have a balanced diet containing many vegetables, fruits, fiber, and lean protein. You should also balance the methods used to cook like grilling and baking.
While there is ample research on air fryer benefits and side effects, there is still much research needed to be done.
Nevertheless, if you plan to move into a new house and lot, owning an air fryer would be an excellent investment.
By: Cholo Hermoso