Is Air Frying Healthy? Here’s What a Dietitian Says

By Erin G

Air fryers have been around for a long time but have only recently become a staple in most households. A registered dietitian sheds light on what makes them an appealing choice and whether air frying is a healthier cooking method.

Operating as a cross between a deep fryer and a convection oven, the air fryer uses hot air to achieve a crispy texture without the excess oil. While its cooking mechanism resembles a convection oven, the impact on a food’s nutrient profile remains consistent between the two methods. However, it’s important to note that cooking, regardless of the method, can form inflammatory compounds, particularly affecting polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 fats. Nonetheless, more research is needed to establish the accurate effects of air frying on these processes.

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Compared to deep frying, air frying emerges as the clear winner due to the significantly reduced oil usage. Minimizing oil consumption reduces calorie intake and decreases the absorption of inflammatory compounds, potentially mitigating the risks of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular issues. Additionally, limiting exposure to high temperatures may result in fewer advanced glycation end products, lowering the chances of developing conditions such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Moreover, air frying may benefit starchy foods, as it tends to preserve starch structure, leading to a slower impact on blood sugar levels. However, it’s crucial to exercise moderation, even with air-fried foods, to manage overall carbohydrate intake.

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When evaluating the healthiness of air frying, it’s essential to consider the types of foods being prepared and their nutritional content. While the air fryer is a healthier option than deep frying, its benefits over the oven could be more straightforward. Nutrient-dense foods maintain their nutritional value, whether cooked in an air fryer or a range. However, avoiding the misconception that the air fryer permits unlimited consumption of calorie-dense foods without repercussions is essential. Moreover, adding excessive oil to air-fried dishes can offset the health advantages of this cooking method.

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In conclusion, the air fryer can be a beneficial tool for those who regularly consume fried foods. While it’s not a guaranteed path to healthy eating, incorporating nutrient-dense foods and practicing moderation can contribute to a balanced and wholesome diet.