An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that is able to produce fried foods without actually going through the process of frying in the traditional sense. This is how an air fryer works: You toss your ingredients in—say some chicken nuggets, French fries, wings, or mozzarella sticks (basically anything that can be fried)—toss in a tablespoon of oil and hit that button. Hot air circulating inside the device mimics the frying method and, viola, you’ve got crispy snacks.
What’s that, a tablespoon of oil? Does that mean it’s healthy? Well, let’s explore the answer to the lingering question: how healthy is an air fryer?
Yes, it is actually a lingering question, as many professional chefs and aspiring cooks have long debated the healthiness of this device. The act of frying itself has long been under fire for not being the healthiest of methods. But that’s because frying, especially deep frying, needs loads and loads of oil. Too much oil in your food equals higher levels of bad cholesterol.
Heart disease and stroke are often associated with high levels of cholesterol, along with a fatty, greasy diet. These are grave illnesses that often result in incapacitation and death and therefore are on the top list of diseases we must prevent with a proper diet.
With the air fryer, you only need a tablespoon or less of oil. Does that make it a healthier alternative? Let’s see.
How Healthy Is an Air Fryer According to Science
In one study, found in the International Food Research Journal, air fryer devices were compared to traditional frying, such as deep-frying. They used potatoes in these studies since potatoes are some of the most commonly fried foods, found in the form of French fries, hash browns, and tots. For these studies, they used potato strips specifically.
Scientists studied how much oil was retained in each batch. What they found was interesting. There was a significant decrease in oil and moisture uptake in air-fried potato strips. So to the question “how healthy is an air fryer,” the answer is yes! It is true that air-frying is healthier compared to deep-frying.
How to Make Sure Meals are Healthy
Now, even though science says that air-frying is healthier than deep-frying, this only ensures that the method is safer for your health. It’s also important to monitor the healthiness of the food itself. Even if the cooking method is considerably healthier, if the ingredients you use are low in nutrients, then it would almost be useless to opt for a healthier way of cooking.
Of course, when you think healthy, the first thing that comes to mind is vegetables. Veggies are rich in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. So if you’re in the mood to whip something up in your air fryer, opt to make grilled or roasted vegetables instead of fried potato chips or nuggets.
Knowing the answer to the lingering question, “how healthy is an air fryer,” is just the beginning of your journey towards healthier eating.
Other Important Questions to Ask
Before purchasing your air fryer, or any device for that matter, it’s good to have a checklist of non-negotiables that the device must be able to fulfill. Healthiness is very important, but it’s not the only thing you have to ensure in an appliance. Here are some examples:
- How safe is the air fryer?
The air fryer is very safe compared to the deep-fryer, which often causes burns to the user, by way of splashing oil, hot surfaces, and even aggravated flames. In comparison, the air fryer is closed the entire time and uses very little oil. This means that the risk for any oil-caused accidents is very low.
- How easy is it to use?
The air fryer is relatively intuitive. It does not require much set-up, nor does it need a stovetop to function. Each device also comes with an instruction manual and, oftentimes, a recipe book.
- How easy is it to store?
Air fryers are pretty compact and can be stowed away in most kitchen cabinets and compartments. They also don’t have too many moving or removable parts, which makes storage pretty easy.
- How much food can they cook?
When we talk about capacity, air fryers are pretty competitive in that aspect. They’re capable of cooking anywhere between 1.8 to 2.5 pounds of food, depending on the model.
How healthy is an air fryer? Much healthier than your traditional cooking methods. On top of that, it isn’t just healthy, it’s easy to use, it’s safe, and it can cook a lot of food as well. That makes for a pretty well-rounded device!