Marketed as a healthy way to enjoy your fried foods, the air fryers have gone up in popularity recently. The company behind the product claims that air fryers can help lower the fat content of your fried favorites, such as chicken wings, fish sticks, French fries etc.
This sounds really interesting, but how healthy is it to cook food using an air fryer?
On this article, we’ll take a closer look at how air fryers can indeed make your food healthy and we’ll determine if the benefits of the product outweigh its risks.
What’s an Air Fryer and How Does It Work?
Air fryer is a popular kitchen device used to cook fried foods such as pastries, potato chips, and meats.
The product works by circulating hot air with fine oil droplets around the food to be fried, resulting in a crunchy and crispy exterior.
This process of cooking also leads to a chemical reaction known as the Maillard Effect, which usually happens between a reducing sugar and an amino acid when exposed to heat. It also results in the alteration of the flavor and color of the food.
Air-fried foods are said to be healthier than deep-fried foods because of their low fat and calorie content.
Instead of submerging the food completely in oil just like with the traditional method of frying, air frying only uses one tablespoon of oil and you’ll be able to get a similar texture and taste.
How to Cook Crispy Food Using Hot Air
The groundbreaking air-frying device was introduced less than a decade ago. Instead of using oil to fry foods, the device was designed to fry foods without the need to put them in oil. As a matter of fact, most foods that are cooked in this method don’t require any oil but only hot air.
The air fryer operates by using the Rapid Air Technology which blows super-heated air to the food that’s being fried. Whether you want to fry chips or fish, chicken, or any meat, the air that will be used as a temperature of up to 200 degree Celsius, which is capable of frying and browning the food resulting in a crisp texture.
In only 10 to 12 minutes, you should be able to cook fries using the air fryer and with the use of only a spoonful of oil. Just like with a traditional fryer, the air fryer can cook all kinds of foods, including steaks, and it will have the same results as when cooked and fried using a traditional fryer.
Although the air fryer is being advertised as an all-purpose fryer, this product is actually like a mini convection oven. It has a high-speed fan, which circulates the hot air and cooks the food in a basket. The device was initially designed as an easier and safer method of frying food which reduces the risk of injuries associated with oil pan frying. Yet, the question that many people have about this product is whether it’s a healthier alternative.
Ever since the product was released in the market, more than 7 million have already been sold around the world. Each unit costs $299, which is a bit expensive compared to a regular fryer. But is it really worth investing in, and is it really healthier?
Using an Air Fryer to Improve Health
The company behind this revolutionary product is Philips, and according to them, you would be able to cook fries in this device with up to 80% less fat than the traditional method of frying. In case you didn’t know, partially hydrogenated oil is filled with trans-fats and consuming a high amount of this oil could raise your LDL cholesterol, which increases your chances of having stroke and heart diseases.
In one study, researchers compared the air fryer with a traditional fryer and both had the same temperature. They cooked potato strips in each fryer to test. After the potatoes were cooked, they checked the moisture and oil and determined if there were any changes in the physiochemical properties of the potatoes.
Researchers found that air frying had significantly reduced the oil uptake and moisture. When it comes to peroxide values, free fatty acids, and other physiochemical changes, researchers have reported significant changes in the oil that was extracted from the traditional method of frying when compared to air frying. Thus, researchers have concluded that using air-fryer in frying foods is, in fact, a healthier alternative to the traditional method of frying.
Even if only a little amount of oil is used, the temperature, type of oil, and the food that’s being fried can all affect the formation of free radicals. If you prefer the air frying method, you should at least use oils that don’t easily oxidize such as the coconut oil.
Using an Air Fryer Can Help Cut Fat Content
Generally, deep-fried foods have a lot of fat unlike other foods prepared through other methods of cooking. For instance, a fried chicken breast has about 30% more fat compared to a roasted chicken breast. Some companies that manufacture the air fryer have claimed that using the air fryer to cook foods can significantly cut down the fat content of foods by up to 75 percent.
The reason behind this is because air fryers require less amount of fat, unlike the traditional fryer. Although most of the recipes of deep-fried dishes require using up to three cups of oil, the air-fried foods only use about one tbsp. of oil. This means that traditional deep fryers are using up to 50 times more oil than the air fryers, and although the food won’t absorb the oil entirely, using an air fryer can greatly cut down the overall amount of fats.
In one study, a group of researchers compared the characteristics of the air-fried fries to the deep-fried ones. They found that the air-fried fries had substantially less fat, yet they had the same moisture and similar content to that of the deep-fried ones. This could have a major impact on your health because a higher intake of fat from oils has been linked to an increased risk of various conditions, including heart diseases and inflammation.
Air Fryer May Help with Weight Loss
Remember that deep-fried foods are not only high in fat but they are also high in calories that could greatly contribute to your weight gain.
On a study done among Spanish adults, it was found that a high intake of fried foods could lead to a bigger risk of becoming obese. So if you’re looking for ways to trim down your waistline, then you should consider air-frying foods instead of deep-frying them.
With 9 calories for every gram of fat, the dietary fat has more than twice as many calories per gram as other macronutrients such as carbohydrates and protein.
Since air-fried foods have less fat compared to the deep-fried foods, transitioning to air frying is definitely a great way to cut down your calorie consumption.
Air Fryers Can Decrease the Formation of Harmful Compounds
Aside from having a high amount of fat and calories, frying foods can also produce potentially dangerous chemicals such as the acrylamide.
This chemical compound is produced from carbohydrate-enriched foods during the process of high-fat cooking, such as deep-frying. As stated by the International Agency for Research, the acrylamide is a possible carcinogen which means that it could possibly lead to cancer.
Although the results of the studies vary, there are some studies that have found a link between the acrylamide and an increased risk of endometrial, kidney, and ovarian cancers.
Air-frying food instead of using the traditional deep fryer may help to lower the content of acrylamide on your foods. In one study, it has been found that air frying could lower the amount of acrylamide by up to 90%, unlike the traditional method of deep-frying.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are several other harmful compounds that can still be produced when air-frying foods. Yet, further research is needed to figure out exactly how air frying could produce harmful chemical compounds.
Air-Frying May Be Healthier than Deep-Frying
Air-fried foods could be healthier than the deep-fried foods in many ways.
For one, air fried foods are low in calories and fat and they don’t have any of those harmful compounds found in deep-fried foods. So if you are trying to lose weight and don’t want to cut down on your consumption of fried foods, using an air fryer may be good for you.
But remember that just because air frying is a better option doesn’t necessarily mean that it will improve your overall health.
If directly compared with deep-frying, it’s clear that air frying is indeed healthier than deep-frying. For those who are fond of eating deep fried foods, air-fryer would be a healthier alternative.
But before you get too excited, there’s one thing you need to know. If you look at it from a bigger picture, it may be better to stay away from eating anything that’s fried, even if these foods aren’t drenched in oil.
Whether you need to cook fries or nuggets, even if you’re not going to use oil, these foods aren’t really the healthiest. Not only are they void of nutrients, since they are cooked in high temperature, certain vitamins and minerals might be reduced during the process of frying, which could make them even less nutritious.
Even if foods cooked in air fryer are healthier than the deep-fried ones, it’s important to remember that these foods are still fried nonetheless. Several studies have shown that eating a lot of fried foods is not good for your health. For instance, a study of a group of 15,362 people, it was found that eating a lot of fried foods could lead to a greater risk of developing heart failure.
Other research has also shown that eating deep-fried foods regularly may be linked to a higher risk of cancer, such as lung, oral, and prostate cancer.
Eating fried foods on a regular basis can also lead to certain conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. Although researches regarding the effects of air-fried foods are still limited, it’s important that you cut down your intake of all kinds of fried foods if you want to have a better health.
Raw Foods May Be Better than Cooked Foods
There have been plenty of studies done to determine if raw foods are better than cooked foods. Since these foods are more nutritious than those that are already cooked, then they may be good for your health. In a study published by the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, it was discovered that if foods were cooked, the fats would actually produce more calories.
So even if you are going to air fry your food, you still would end up eating more fat than when you go for raw foods. Besides, raw foods that have more nutrients will do you good and it’s not like you’re going to fry spinach or eggplant, right?
Even if you end up tossing broccoli into your air fryer, you’ll still end up cheating yourself of the cancer-fighting nutrients if you always go for air frying. Numerous studies have shown that if consume raw cruciferous vegetables, you could significantly lower your risk of developing cancer.
Air Frying Encourages You to Eat Poorly
The lesson to be learned here is that air frying is indeed a healthier option for those who are fond of eating fried foods. However, this device may only encourage you to eat more of those unhealthy fried foods. Just as packaged foods are a solution for convenience, the air fryer may also encourage people to do the less healthy option.
If you are worried about your intake of fats, then try to steer clear from fried foods even if you cook it in the air fryer. Instead, opt for foods with heart-healthy fats, like those found in walnuts, fish, avocado, and olive oil. If you want to truly live a healthy lifestyle, changing the way you cook your chicken or potatoes will not help. Instead, you need to totally transform your diet.
Instead of buying the air fryer that costs somewhere between $100 and $300, why don’t you use your money to pay for a new food plan? Spend time at your local farmers market and eat the produce of the season. If you choose to eat vegetables that could yield more antioxidants if cooked such as carrots or tomatoes, consider steaming or lightly boiling them.
Air frying might seem like a fancy device for frying that can make your fried foods healthier, but always remember that cooking well doesn’t mean cooking in a fancy device. You should go back to the basics and try to make your eating plan as diversified as possible.
Top 25 Air Fryer Recipes to Make
So you have decided to join in the bandwagon of air fryer users. This trendy device has taken the world by storm thanks to its ability to fry foods by using less oil. Those who can’t live without fried foods will surely find this device useful.
Here are some recipes you can make using the revolutionary air fryer:
Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs
You have probably tried making meatballs using a Crock Pot in the past, but you can now cook it using your air fryer. Using the air fryer to cook your teriyaki chicken meatballs will only take 10 minutes and it will come out with just the right amount of crispiness. The recipe uses ground chicken meat along with a spicy teriyaki sauce.
Easy Jalapeño Poppers
Jalapeño poppers are a big hit during parties, yet they are a bit time-consuming to prepare. Using the air fryer can help simplify things. This recipe contains only four ingredients. Aside from the jalapeños, you also need parsley, cream cheese, and gluten-free tortilla crumbs for this recipe. Goat cheese will taste great for this recipe, too!
Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
Regular potato fries are probably the first thing that people would fry on the air fryer, but why don’t you get your hands on the sweet potato fries? Simply toss the sweet potato slices with garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika and olive oil, and fry them to the air fryer.
Thai Peanut Chicken Egg Rolls
This recipe is not like your average egg rolls because it’s made from Rotisserie chicken and only requires 6 to 8 minutes frying time. This would taste great with a peanut sauce which you can simply buy from a supermarket or you can make your own using a coconut milk-based spread and a peanut butter.
Two-Ingredient Chicken Wings
As the name suggests, this chicken wings recipe contains only two ingredients. This will not require the use of oil, baking powder, or flour. It’s just the chicken wings and BBQ sauce. Simply pop the wings in the air fryer and cook for up to 25 minutes. After that, take the chicken out, and then coat in sauce.
Parmesan Dill Pickle Chips
If you’re a fan of pickles, then rejoice. This crunchy pickle recipe is fun and easy to make. The pickles are coated with Parmesan and Panko and will only require 10 minutes to prepare. If you need a last minute meal, then this is what you should prepare for.
Ranch Chicken Tenders
People often consider chicken tenders as a fast food instead of being part of a healthy eating plan. But with the use of the air fryer, you can now make healthy and juicy chicken tenders using less oil. And if you want to make this recipe even healthier, use Greek yogurt instead of mayo for your dip.
Avocado fries? Why not? The tantalizing combination of creaminess and crunchiness is definitely an ultimate indulgence. Although this food is a little bit heavier in calories, the fries are so darn good and worth the splurge. The secret to achieving the perfect avocado fries with the air fryer is in choosing the avocados that are ripe but with enough firmness that they stay firm during cooking. You can pair the fries with a spicy sauce and that’s it.
Broccoli With Cheese Sauce
Aside from making the food overly crisp with less fat, the air fryer is also capable of producing crunchy roasted broccoli without turning it into that unappealing army green color. And what good is a broccoli without cheese sauce? The creamy cheese sauce is extremely easy to make. You can prepare it ahead so you can just reheat it each time you feel like eating some broccoli with cheese.
Strawberry Pop Tarts
These air fryer delights are a great snack to be shared with family and friends. But instead of baking them in the oven, these piping hot strawberry pop tarts can now be made using the air fryer. It’s made of a microwave jam with some chunks of strawberries. The lemon juice can help tone down the sweetness of the glaze.
Air Fryer Doughnuts
If you find yourself craving for your favorite donuts but without the guilt, you can now make them with the air fryer. This recipe delivers the same sweet and tender sugar glazed goodness in a healthier way.
Loaded Baked Potatoes
Preparing comfort food just got even better thanks to your air fryer. One of the best comfort food recipes for your air fryer is these baked potatoes that are so crispy. It also includes a big serving of bacon, sour cream, and cheese. The secret to making this dish even more flavorful is to use center cut bacon. This bacon cooks up nicely and is very crispy and yields just enough oil drippings to make the potatoes shine.
Air Fryer Empanadas
Empanadas are known for being a double whammy of calories and fats, thanks to the ground beef filling and the way they are cooked, which is usually by deep-frying. With the use of the air fryer, this delicious snack can become a bit healthier. Furthermore, this recipe includes mushrooms that can somehow lighten up the filling while also maintaining the nice and moist texture.
Peach Hand Pies
Yes, it’s definitely possible to cook a perfectly flaky pie using your fryer. For this recipe, you can use store-bought crust which bakes up nicely in the air fryer. Fresh peaches can make for a great filling, although you can always use fresh peaches if you don’t have the fresh ones. But instead of throwing the juice from the peaches, simmer it down in a small pan and top it to the pies!
If you haven’t tried making calzones before, you’d be glad to know that this recipe is actually fairly easy with the help of your air fryer. This recipe will show you the process of how to come up with a perfectly browned and deliciously crunchy calzones using the device. For a healthier version of the recipe, consider using the whole-wheat dough, although you can always use the regular dough. To make your calzone even more flavorful, serve it along with a marinara sauce.
Air-Fried Corn, Mexican Style
There’s no longer a need to hunt down your local food truck if you’re craving for a Mexican snack. You can always turn to your air fryer to create your own Mexican style fried corn. This recipe will result in a crispy, juicy, and delicious corn with tasty garlic lime butter. The secret to this delicious recipe is in picking out small corn ears. Trim them slightly so they will fit right in the basket of your air fryer and if there are any leftovers, cut the kernels and sprinkle them over your salad.
Whole-Wheat Pita Pizzas
Aside from the ability to produce crisp delights, your air fryer is also capable of making delicious pita pizzas! Whole-wheat pizzas are not only delicious but they are also healthy thanks to the rich fiber content. Roma tomatoes are a perfect fit for personal pizzas such as these. You can follow the toppings from this recipe or you can customize it by coming up with your own toppings.
Cinnamon Biscuit Bites
This delicious recipe is a cross between biscuits and cinnamon rolls and it’s so easy to prepare using your air fryer. It makes use of a “no-yeast” dough, which doesn’t require rising and bakes up to crisp and tender fluffy bites in only a few minutes. You can jazz up the glaze in your own way. For instance, instead of water, you can use lemon juice and you can add a bit of lemon zest to it!
Air Fryer Spanakopita Bites
Super crunchy spanakopita bites are another delicious recipe that your air fryer is well capable of cooking! These savory pastries are filled with salty cheeses and spinach and with only a small hint of lemon. The Classic recipe requires brushing the Phyllo with butter, but for this version, you can opt for go for olive oil, which adds more Greek flavor to these savory snacks. This pastry dish can make for an excellent appetizer or party dish.
Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
These delicious cauliflower bites have everything you need for a delicious air fryer recipe, whether you are a vegetarian or not. It’s made with blue cheese that makes the dish even more flavorful. For those who don’t fancy the use of blue cheese, you can opt for the milder cheeses, such as Feta and Gorgonzola. To make this recipe easier and faster, use the pre-packaged cauliflower florets.
Air-Fried Coconut Shrimp
This air-fried shrimp recipe will send you to the Caribbean beach. It’s made of Panko and coconut, which results in an amazingly crispy shrimp. You can use finely shredded coconut for this recipe to guarantee better adhesion to the crust. This beach-inspired dish can be made even tastier if paired with a sweet tangy honey lemon sauce.
Crispy Onion Rings With Comeback Sauce
Everybody loves onion rings! These deep-fried indulgences can now be made using your air fryer, resulting in crunchy rings thanks to their superbly crispy coating. And since it’s air-fried, it doesn’t have the heavy greasiness that comes with deep-frying the onion rings. Plus, the sweet and tangy sauce is the perfect pairing for these crunchy and savory onions.
Crispy Toasted Sesame Tofu
This crispy toasted sesame tofu is served with a heaping of tangy dressing made of toasted sesame oil, honey, and soy sauce. These air-fried tofu cubes are perfect with a serving of brown rice. The secret to achieving a perfectly crisp tofu is to first drain and dry it to take away the excess moisture. Next, cook the tofu in batches and keep on turning the cubes when cooking to make sure that all sides have a crunchy texture.
Flaxseed French Toast Sticks
One of the best ways you can achieve best results when using your air fryer is by coating the food with dry ingredients that will give it a crispy and nice texture. Like in this recipe, an Omega-3 rich flaxseed is used to make the French toast even crunchier.
Air-Fried Apple Chips
If you’re looking for a sweet treat to satisfy your cravings without the guilt, then these air-fried apple chips would be perfect. You can pack these goodies in your lunch bag and carry with you at work. The apples provide natural sweetness and a good amount of fiber to this snack, making them a great choice for those who are trying to follow a healthy diet.
Using the air fryer to fry your favorite foods is definitely healthier than deep-frying because it lowers the number of calories, fats, and some harmful compounds in the food you are cooking. But you have to remember that these air-fried foods are still fried foods and eating them regularly could still put you at risk of developing many diseases. Therefore, although air fryers are a better alternative to deep-frying, you should still limit your consumption of air-fried foods for a better health.