Is Cooking With an Air Fryer Healthier?

Is Cooking With an Air Fryer Healthier?

The air fryer has established itself as a kitchen mainstay appliance these last few years. They’re widely available, they’re small enough to fit in tight kitchens (like the one in my Brooklyn apartment), and fit a range of budgets without sacrificing efficacy. They work great, and their popularity was secured, in part, by claims they can cook food in a more healthy way—after all, you’re not deep frying, you’re air frying. So is cooking with an air fryer actually healthier? Well, like most things that seem too good to be true, it all depends.

What is an air fryer?

In case this is all news to you, an air fryer is essentially a countertop convection oven. They’re effective kitchen appliances that can make cooking faster and easier in some ways, and they come in snazzy colors and different styles. Here’s how air fryers actually work—long story short, they use a fan to circulate the hot air and this rapid cooking replicates the effects of frying, but with air instead of oil. 

Are air fryers healthy?

“Healthy” is a vague word, so let’s be more specific. 

Deep fried food absorbs oil. Deep frying, or even shallow frying food in a half-inch of oil, requires that food sits submerged fully or partially in hot fat. The frying and cooling process leads to oil absorption in the food, increasing the overall caloric value of the fried food. This might not be something you want. 

An air fryer doesn’t require pools of oil. Since convection cooking isn’t frying at all (it’s closer to baking), oil isn’t the primary heat delivery agent, hot whipping winds are. You can cook food in an air fryer with little to no additional oil and pull out a delicious snack with a crispy, crunchy exterior. An air fryer allows for less added oil with desirable results. 

It’s about what you’re cooking

Does a breaded chicken nugget tossed in the air fryer contain fewer calories than if it were submerged in a deep fryer? Yes. Is that air fried chicken nugget more nutritionally dense than a kale salad? Doubtful. So, is an air fryer the answer to healthy eating? Not really. You could use it solely as a french fry reheater, and though an important usage, that wouldn’t be delivering a ton of nutrients to your system. Healthy eating is more about what you’re cooking; it’s respective to your dietary needs and accessible choices. By the way, healthy eating is not the same as dieting

If you’re interested in eating healthy, there are some other valuable factors to take into consideration besides counting the calories in the spritz of oil you used for air frying. Consider the air fryer a useful gadget in your cooking toolkit. It can turn out gorgeous, nutritious roasted peppers using no oil just as easily as it can melt the cheese on a frozen pizza. Depending on your dietary needs and goals, you decide what goes in.

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