The air fryer: A kitchen appliance that has been growing in popularity since its introduction over 10 years ago.
An air fryer contains a fry basket that suspends the food inside and allows accessibility of heat from all sides, essentially exposing the food to very hot circulating air, like a convection oven. Marketing for the air fryer focuses on the idea that you can have "fried" foods (i.e. French fries, fried chicken, cheese curds) without actually frying the food in oil, thanks to the cooking method it utilizes that results in crispy, crunchy food. But the big question is: is air-frying healthy?
Are Air Fryers a healthier alternative?
Air frying significantly reduces the amount of oil absorbed into foods compared to deep frying. You need fat in your diet for good health, but excessive intake of fat, specifically saturated fat, could contribute to the risk of developing or worsening cardiovascular disease. In other words, if you wanted to make crispy fried chicken for dinner, air-frying rather than deep-frying would result in decreased fat consumption.
However, it's important to recognize that a diet that consists mainly of fried foods that are cooked in an Air Fryer and lack nutrient-dense foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts/seeds, etc.) is still a diet that could use more nutrient-density. Luckily, you can make some of these foods in the air fryer as well as the fried foods.
Cooking in the oven and cooking in the air fryer will generally end up with food that has the same nutrient profile since an oven and an air fryer use similar heating techniques. In this case, air-frying would not be considered a healthier alternative to baking your food in an oven. You don't need an air fryer to cook nutritious foods, considering it is an extra appliance that takes up space on the counter.
What can I make in my Air Fryer?
If you own an air fryer or are curious about them, know that there is a wide variety of foods that you can make besides French fries and crispy chicken. Here are just some ideas:
- Turkey burgers and salmon cakes
- Breaded pork chops and scallops
- Crunchy chickpeas for snacking
- Baked potatoes or sweet potato fries
- Veggies like crisp and tender asparagus
- Kale chips
The internet has a wealth of recipes for air-frying thanks to its rising popularity. If you have the time and financial resources, it might be a fun and adventurous way to try new foods!
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