To begin with, we can make crispy foods in the air fryer that taste just as good as they do deep-fried, but without using as much extra oil. Sounds good, no doubt, but is it really that healthy?
In essence, an air fryer is a cross between a convection oven and a deep fryer. Food can be suspended in the air fryer and exposed to heat from all directions thanks to the fry basket, which is ideal for crisping food.
The Impact of Cooking on Food
Regardless of the appliance you use, food will typically have the same nutritional profile because air frying and oven cooking both use similar heating techniques (hot air).
That being said, food undergoes compositional changes whenever it is cooked, and inflammatory compounds may develop. This is especially true for omega-3 heart-healthy fats like EPA and DHA found in fish, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Fish fillets that were fried retained the least amount of EPA and DHA, according to a 2018 Science in Asia study. A 2018 Antioxidants (Basel) study found that the most inflammatory compounds were produced from changes in polyunsaturated fats when pan-frying salmon.
Deep-frying versus air-frying
There is one obvious winner when comparing deep-frying and air-frying (hint: it’s air-frying!). The amount of oil used in air frying makes it the preferred method over deep frying. While most air fryers require little to no additional fat, the deep fryer needs several litres of oil!
Overindulging in fried food is a simple way to take in too many calories. That being said, when compared to deep frying, air frying considerably reduces the amount of oil absorbed into food. This is an advantage of using an air fryer because using less oil usually results in consuming fewer calories, which can lower the risk of weight gain, obesity, and other health issues.
Moreover, heating cooking oil can raise the concentrations of inflammatory chemicals, which can then seep into the food. Here, less oil retention translates into less inflammatory substances in the food we eat. This could result in a lower chance of developing chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease. Less oil may also equate to consuming less saturated fat, which would lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This would depend on the type of oil being used.
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The answer becomes less evident when contrasting the air fryer and the oven. The functions of the two appliances are similar, but the former cooks food faster than the other.
The actual determinant of “what is healthy” is what you put in your air fryer and what you eat. Foods high in nutrients, such as whole grains, fatty fish, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, are usually equally nutritious when cooked in an air fryer as they are when baked.
Because air frying is healthier than deep frying, it is not a “free pass” to consume an endless supply of foods with more calories. It’s crucial to keep in mind that the primary advantage of airfrying over deepfrying is the quantity of oil used; therefore, the advantages might not be as great if you start adding a lot of oil to your air-fried meals.