Is cooking with an air fryer healthy?



Have you been seeing more and more air fryer recipes lately?

Many people are falling in love with air fryers these days because they can recreate some classic favourites.

Think chicken wings, onion rings, and French fries at home without a massive amount of oil.

An air fryer is about the size of a toaster oven and can be used for all kinds of recipes from meat main courses to roasted vegetables and more.

A major plus of the air fryer is that it does not require all of the heat and cooking time of a full-size oven.

Healthy, crispy French fries, onion rings, and nuggets? It seems too good to be true, and in a way, it is.

First things first: air fryers are not actually fryers at all. They are more like a mini-ovens, but they circulate hot air all around your little basket of fries. This is able to get food a little crispier than what your oven could do – although not nearly as crispy (or satisfyingly greasy) as what would come out of a deep fryer.

But wait, is this cooking device actually healthy in addition to being convenient and cost-effective?

It can be said with confidence that the number of saturated fats consumed from deep-frying foods is significantly lower, so it is fair to conclude that air frying is generally healthier.

However, that is not the end of the story. To get a definitive answer to the question, we must examine precisely how and what we are cooking in our air fryers.

Speaking to dietitian Mbali Mapholi, Mapholi said air fryers were developed to help create a more healthy way to cook deep-fried foods, not to replace traditional, healthy methods of preparing foods, such as baking, roasting, and grilling.

She said air fryers produce foods with similar flavours, and texture to deep fryers, at a fraction of the oil that deep fryers need.

“Deep-frying food in oil can cause dangerous compounds to develop, such as acrylamide. By switching to air frying, people can lower the risk of having acrylamide in their food. High indirect consumption of acrylamide may lead to the development or increased risk of certain cancers, for example, oesophageal cancer.

“The use of little to no oil in the air fryer is also associated with a lower intake of calories, and total fat which can help promote good health, support weight loss, and contribute to the reduction of lifestyle diseases,” said Mapholi.

“Research on the effects of air-fried food is currently limited, but it is generally recommended that people should limit their intake of fried foods in general, with air fryers being some of the healthier options. Moreover, air fryers are a convenient, time-saving way of cooking which gives people an opportunity to cook more meals at home for good health.

However, it is important to note that none of this guarantees that air-fried chicken is more healthy than roasted, grilled, slow-cooked or pan-seared chicken. There are many other appliances capable of providing healthy, delicious foods. They just do not result in the fried crispy texture that air fryers provide,” Mapholi said.

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