We all know that it can be a challenge to balance healthy food choices with a desire to eat what tastes good. When it comes down to it, most of us have the occasional (or frequent) hankering for some mouthwatering fried food. However, while delicious, fried foods – when consumed too often – are responsible for contributing to a number of different health issues including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation and cancer.
As our society is becoming more and more health conscious and health focused, air fryers are rapidly growing in popularity – and why not? A healthy alternative to making your favorite traditionally fried foods? It seems like a win-win!
So are air fryers really a better choice for your diet and overall health? We talked with OhioHealth dietitian, Michelle Mills, RDN, LD, to find out.
The Benefits to Cooking with Air Fryers
Air fryers allow you to create that trademark crispy texture of fried food without all the excess calories.
“Air fryers simplify the cooking process and you don’t have to add a lot of fat from oil to get a crispy texture,” says Mills. “It’s a healthier alternative to traditional frying.”
“There are less calories from added fat,” says Mills. One of the biggest benefits of using an air fryer over the traditional method of frying food, is that air fryers use considerably less oil – essentially eliminating a huge percentage of the fat content and calories (around 70 to 80%) from your food.
Additionally, air fryers reduce instances of acrylamide formation, a toxic substance that is created in some foods when cooked at very high temperatures. This process can happen with traditional deep frying, and acrylamide has been linked to causing certain types of cancer including pancreatic, breast, ovarian and kidney cancer.
Quicker, easier and cleaner!
Air frying your food is usually a much quicker process with a lot less mess. As far as convenience goes, air fryers are a great option. You may even want to consider using an air fryer as a way to reheat your fried leftovers from the night before. This will ensure that your food stays crispy instead of the alternative – soggy reheated microwave fries.
“You can cook a lot more than sweet potato fries,” says Mills. “Air fryers are a time saver as they can cook meats – like chicken or fish – within 30 to 45 minutes and roasted vegetables in about 15 to 20 minutes.”
Other Factors to Consider
We asked Mills if there were any possible negative side effects that can arise from using air fryers. She explains, “No, there’s no negative side effects from a health perspective. It is just adding another appliance to your kitchen.”
Air frying your food is not a fix-all
While air fryers are a better option than traditional deep frying methods, that doesn’t mean it should always be used in place of other healthier ways of preparing your food like roasting, steaming and grilling.
Continue to eat a balanced diet
It is important to maintain a balanced diet and consume fried (even air fried) food sparingly. You should be sure to always incorporate healthy options like fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
So, what’s the bottom line?
Fried food is still fried food, so remember to consume it in moderation. However, air fryers make a great alternative to eating traditionally fried foods when you’re craving a crispy treat!
Ready to fire up the air fryer? Check out this recipe roundup!
The complete list: