If you have been looking for a new cooking appliance to help prepare healthy meals, you might want to look into getting an air fryer. This is a cooking appliance that uses air to ‘deep fry’ your food instead of oil. It not only makes dishes healthier and less fattening, but it cooks them in record time.
How the Air Fryer Works
Before you get started with your air fryer and learning the benefits, it helps to know exactly how this cooking appliance works. The reason the air fryer allows you to have crispy, fried foods without oil is because the air is circulating at a rapid pace while also heating up to high frying degrees. It goes up to around 200 degrees Celsius, which helps give that crispness you are used to with your fried foods. It also does it in record time, similar to how quickly a pressure cooker can make different foods.
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The Process is Similar to a Deep Fryer
If you have ever used a deep fryer, you should know the basics of an air fryer. It is a similar size, and also has a basket for keeping your foods in when they go in. There is a timer and thermometer as well so you know the air circulating has reached the desired temperature to fry your foods.
The Air Fryer Makes Healthier Food
While there are many reasons to use an air fryer, the fact that it makes healthier food is a major bonus. You are getting crispy, fried-like foods without using any oil, aside from what you marinate your meat and veggies with. It uses about 80 percent less oil to make things like deep fried vegetables, fried chicken, and various other dishes and appetizers. You can give your family their favorite foods without going through a fast food restaurant or having to use an unhealthy deep fryer.
Your Food Cooks Quickly
Another thing to know about the air fryer is that your food is cooked quickly. As opposed to baking vegetables, you can get a crispy edge and roasted vegetable taste in as little as 10-15 minutes in the air fryer. Many things will take less time, which means less time you are spending in the kitchen. Plus, just like a pressure cooker and slow cooker, this handy appliance means you are not heating up your entire kitchen just for these delicious meals. This is a great option in the hot summer.
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How Air Fryers Help With Healthy Cooking
Now that you know what an air fryer is and how it works, you may be curious about how to use the air fryer for healthier foods. The main way an air fryer is healthier is by not using an excessive amount of oil to coat your food and deep fry it. Instead, you get that fast cooking time and crispy texture, but air is frying your food instead of fattening oil.
Fried Food Without the Calories
Naturally, one of the top reasons an air fryer helps with healthier dishes is that you are cutting down on the fat and calories substantially. Just a tablespoon of oil has over 100 calories alone, and you are using a lot more than that to fry up your food. With an air fryer, no oil is being used as you are relying on the circulating air to cook the food and give it a crispness. This allows you to have your fries, fried chicken, or mozzarella sticks where the oil isn’t being added to the overall calorie count.
You Eat Less Processed Foods
This is a really important benefit to your health that you should keep in mind. If time or difficulty of cooking at home is what is keeping you from eating whole, fresh foods, then the air fryer can be perfect for you. Not only can you make all your own favorite foods right in your kitchen to help save money, but it is so easy and fast, that you are encouraged to cook at home a little more often. This decreases how often you are driving through a fast food restaurant to get the same fried foods you can make at home, plus you are going to be eating more whole foods in the process.
It Doesn’t Require a Lot of Space
Another thing that keeps people from eating healthier is lack of proper kitchen space. You might live in an apartment or have a tiny kitchen without a lot of room for cooking appliances. However, this should not mean you are going out to eat or ordering pizza every night. Air fryers are small appliances, no larger than the standard slow cooker. It should fit just fine on your countertop and is usually small enough to fit in cabinets with just a little organization. Even with a small kitchen, you can use the air fryer for fast, healthier meals.
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Using an Air Fryer Can Help Cut Fat Content
Deep-fried foods are generally higher in fat than foods prepared using other cooking methods. For example, a chicken breast that has been fried contains about 30% more fat than an equal amount of roasted chicken. Some manufacturers claim that using an air fryer can cut the fat content of fried foods by up to 75%. This is because air fryers require significantly less fat than traditional deep fryers. While many recipes for deep-fried dishes call for up to 3 cups (750 ml) of oil, air-fried foods need only about 1 tablespoon (15 ml).
This means that deep fryers use up to 50 times more oil than air fryers and, while not all of that oil is absorbed by the food, using an air fryer can significantly cut down on the overall fat content of your food. One study compared the characteristics of deep-fried and air-fried french fries and found that air-frying resulted in a final product with substantially less fat but a similar color and moisture content. This can have a major impact on your health, as a higher intake of fat from vegetable oils has been associated with an increased risk of conditions like heart disease and inflammation.
Switching to an Air Fryer May Aid in Weight Loss
Deep-fried foods aren’t just higher in fat, but they’re also higher in calories and may contribute to weight gain. One study of 33,542 Spanish adults found that a higher intake of fried foods was associated with a greater risk of obesity.
If you’re looking to trim your waistline, swapping your deep-fried foods for air-fried foods can be a good place to start. Clocking in at 9 calories in every gram of fat, dietary fat contains over twice as many calories per gram as other macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates. Because air-fried foods are lower in fat than deep-fried products, switching to an air fryer may be an easy way to cut calories and promote weight loss.
Air Fryers Can Decrease the Formation of Harmful Compounds
In addition to being higher in fat and calories, frying food can create potentially dangerous compounds like acrylamide. Acrylamide is a compound formed in carbohydrate-rich foods during high-heat cooking methods like frying. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide is classified as a “probable carcinogen,” meaning that some research shows that acrylamide may be linked to the development of cancer.
Although the results are mixed, some studies have found an association between dietary acrylamide and an increased risk of kidney, endometrial and ovarian cancers. Air-frying your food instead of using a deep fryer may help lower the acrylamide content of your fried foods. In fact, one study found that air-frying reduced acrylamide by 90% compared to traditional deep-frying.
However, it’s important to note that other harmful compounds may still be formed during the process of air-frying. Aldehydes, heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are all other potentially dangerous chemicals that are formed with high-heat cooking and may be associated with a higher risk of cancer. Further research is needed to determine how air-frying may impact the formation of these compounds.
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Air-Frying May Be Healthier Than Deep-Frying
Air-fried foods may be healthier than deep-fried foods in several ways. They are lower in fat, calories and even some potentially harmful compounds that are found in traditionally fried foods. If you’re looking to lose weight or lower your fat intake without modifying or cutting down on fried foods, switching to an air fryer may be a good choice. However, keep in mind that just because it may be a better option than deep-frying doesn’t mean that it’s a great option when it comes to your overall health.
Air-Fried Food Is Still Fried Food
Although air-fried foods may be healthier than deep-fried foods, it’s important to remember that they are still fried foods. A multitude of studies have shown that eating fried foods may be associated with numerous adverse effects on health.
For example, a study of 15,362 people found that eating more fried foods was associated with a greater risk of heart failure. Other research has shown that regularly eating deep-fried foods may be associated with a higher risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate, lung and oral cancers.
Frequently eating fried foods has been associated with other conditions as well, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. While research on the effects of air-fried food specifically is limited, it’s recommended to cut your intake of all fried foods to help promote better health. Instead, opt for healthier cooking methods, such as baking, roasting, steaming or sautéing, to boost flavor and avoid the negative health effects of fried foods.
The Bottom Line
Compared to deep-frying, using an air fryer can reduce the amount of fat, calories and potentially harmful compounds in your food. However, air-fried foods are still fried foods and eating them on a regular basis may be associated with adverse health conditions. Although air fryers may be a better alternative to deep fryers, limiting your intake of fried foods altogether is the best option when it comes to your health.
Some Easy Air Fryer Recipes
When you first get your air fryer, you might be a little overwhelmed with everything you can and want to do with it. Here are some super simple recipes to start with, all of which are healthy and contain lots of nutrients.
This is a recipe that might have a lot of ingredients but is really easy to put together. Plus, you can have stuffed peppers in a matter of minutes. It is also a healthy option since the majority of the dish is a vegetable, with some lean protein on the inside.
- Cook your bell peppers in boiling water for a couple minute to soften them after you have removed the seeds and stems.
- Preheat the air fryer, and while you do that, sautee your onions and garlic in oil.
- You can then cook the beef and other ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce.
- Fill the peppers with the mixture, and pop them in the air fryer. This is super simple!
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If you have been looking for a healthy snack that is easy to prepare ahead of time, why not make some banana chips? You can buy these in bags at the store, but they often contain preservatives in order to keep them fresh. You can reduce the additives and save money by making them yourself. The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to use raw or barely ripe bananas, so they aren’t too mushy.
- Slice the bananas into thin slices and coat them with salt and any seasonings you want to use.
- Add some olive oil to the chips and place them in the air fryer basket for about 15 minutes.
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‘Fried’ Green Beans
A good way to get the kids to eat more vegetables is to make them appear fried. This is much healthier to do when you have an air fryer, plus it makes it super simple. You will prepare the green beans just like most of the fried food for the air fryer. You want to season the green beans first, then create a coating with egg, flour, and breading of your choice. If you want them to be lower carbs, use grated cheese instead of regular breading, or you can use pork rinds. There are many things you can do with an air fryer, these are just some easy recipes to help get you started.