Although I love grilling, sometimes you cannot beat some fried food. Especially on a cheat day, which is something I observe when I’m particurarly following the slow carb diet. However, typically the amount of oil used in frying upsets my stomach – not to mention the health issues.

Recently I’ve started air frying after I purchased the Philips XL Airfryer. This has really revolutionized my cheat day cooking and ensures I do not fall off the wagon too much. I did a lot of research ahead of making the purchase and I collected a lot of answer that I thought might be useful to you so I’ve presented the case for air fryers below.

What is an Air Fryer?

Most people know that, whilst food cooked in a deep fat fryer can taste terrific, too much of it can be bad for you. The air fryer came onto the market in the noughties as an alternative way of giving food the look and taste of deep fried food, but without the associated health risks. Air fryers are certainly popular with the public who, since they were introduced, have bought about 8 million units.

 

What is the difference in the way air fryers work as opposed to deep fat fryers?

The clues are in the names. In a deep fat fryer food is cooked by immersing it in oil that has been heated to a high temperature; in an air fryer, whilst some foods require a tablespoon of oil to facilitate the cooking process, it is the circulation of extremely hot air (300-400 degrees Fahrenheit) and small droplets of oil in it that cooks and browns the food. This means that cooking in a deep fat fryer uses up to 50 times more oil.

Why is oil regarded as the enemy?

There are some good oils, certainly, such as olive oil, or rapeseed oil. However, for deep fat frying people tend to use vegetable oils that are hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated. These contain trans fats which raise LDL cholesterol and which the medical world advises us to avoid due to their clear links to heart disease and strokes. A tablespoon of oil contains 120 calories and 10 grams of fat. When you think how much oil is needed for deep fat frying, even though not all the oil is absorbed by the food, you start to build up a picture of the benefits air frying can bring. In fact, many air fryer manufacturers claim you can reduce your calorie and fat consumption by between 50% and 75%, which is great news for anyone watching their waistline. A study published in the International Food Research Journal, which analysed potato strips cooked using both methods, supports the claim that air frying reduces the amount of oil and moisture absorbed during cooking and does not alter the chemical constituents of food to the extent deep fat frying does. It concludes therefore, that air frying is the healthier option.

Changes to the chemical composition of food

When carbohydrate rich foodstuffs are heated to a high temperature Acrylamide, recognised by the International Agency for Research in Cancer as a carcinogenic, is produced. Whilst more research needs to be done, early indications are that there is a link between dietary acrylamide and renal, endometrial and ovarian cancers, and that this is irrespective of the way food is cooked. Heating oil to a high temperature also stimulates the production of free radicals which also aren’t good for the body. One way to at least reduce the risk is to make sure the small amount of oil used in your air fryer doesn’t oxidise easily. It is also worth bearing in mind that heating food to a high temperature, by any method, can deplete the amounts of vitamins and minerals in the food. Sometimes it’s a tough choice, your children may not like vegetables cooked the traditional way but might love the crispiness that an air fryer can give them, even though the nutritional benefits may be less. Finally, if not monitored closely, an air fryer can burn and char food like traditional frying or grilling can and that too can be carcinogenic.

The verdict

If you just cant give up fries, fried chicken, empanadas and all the other food you cook in a deep fat fryer, convenience and speed of preparation are high on your list of priorities and you use your deep fat fryer a lot, then making a substantial investment in an air fryer is likely to be a better option for you that what you are currently doing, and those benefits will increase proportionately in relation to the extent to which you stop using deep frying. There is no debate around the fact that air fryers use significantly less oil and therefore both the amount of fat and number of calories consumed decreases, which is great news for the fights against type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

However, there is no escaping the fact that the sorts of food typically cooked in an air fryer are not the healthiest options. It might be air frying, but it’s still frying, and frying is associated with obesity. Nevertheless, the good news is that air frying is a healthier way to fry. In conclusion, take a good look at your diet, make sure you are getting plenty of nutritionally rich food, ditch your deep fat fryer, and if you really do crave that deep-fried taste, invest in an air fryer, but use it sparingly, for special occasions and treats.