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Is Air Fried Food Really Fried? Food Critic’s Advice

Most of us love fried food, but at the same time, we don’t want to get obese, because we know, how tough it is to stay fit. And we are in India,where fried food is everywhere! No matter how well you control yourself, you’ll fall for it! Air fryers are a boon, as they let us enjoy fried food, without worrying about getting fat!

But is air fried food really fried? Yes it is, because the word ‘fry” isn’t directly associated with the usage of oil. Oil is just a medium for frying food, and if we use some other medium for frying, for example, air, then also, it’s called fried food only. 

Is air-fried food really fried? 

For starters, the air fryer lets us create crispy meals which taste just like deep-fried food with no oil. This sounds like a winner but is it healthy?

Let’s discuss how the air fryer functions. It’s essentially a hybrid of deep fryers and a convection oven. It has a fry basket that lets food items be suspended and exposed to the heat from all sides, which is great for cooking  tasty and crispy food.

Instead of being cooked in hot oil, foods are exposed to extremely hot air that circulates like a convection oven.

Knowing the workings of an air fryer, let’s discuss how it is compared with traditional cooking techniques.

How do you make use of the air fryer?

How do you make use of the air fryer_

If you are using Air fryers, the primary thing to remember is that you should not overload the basket. If you are cooking something that resembles french fries, be sure you don’t put the fries in layers. This will result in an even cook.

If you’re wondering about the amount of food in your basket, make sure to add less food to each batch and cook the number of batches you require.

The manual for your air fryer will give you a general idea of the cooking time and temperature for different foods. Whatever the cooking time, take a moment to open the basket to observe the cooking progress of your food. Shake it around to ensure all food is cooked uniformly.

The main point is that air-frying is the perfect option to indulge in delicious fried foods without the fat and oil that comes with deep-frying. However, it should not substitute for other healthy cooking methods.

The health benefits of air-frying

The health benefits of air-frying

Could aid in weight loss

Deep-fried food is both rich in calories and fat, so switching these food items with the ones made in air fryers can reduce calories. However, it is contingent on how often frying, as a cooking method, is used as a part of the daily diet.

A method that is less fat for cooking

Air fryers consume lower amounts of oil than deep fat fryers. The results of a review from the year 2015 found that food prepared in an air fryer is consequently significantly lower in fat. Air fryers do this by heating foods in warm air with fine oil droplets.

May preserve nutrients

Convection heat, like the one used in an air fryer, can preserve certain nutrients during the cooking process. These include vitamin C and  polyphenols.

Air fryers are more secure in the kitchen

Deep frying involves heating up a large, deep skillet of oil to reach a high temperature. This can pose a health danger in the kitchen as hot oil can splash, spill, or even fire. When air-fryers are used, conformity with the instructions doesn’t pose the same safety risks.

Lower levels of Acrylamide

Evidence suggests that using an air-fryer reduces the amount of a chemical called Acrylamide by as much as 90% compared with deep fat cooking. Acrylamide is a chemical compound created when starchy foods, such as potatoes and other vegetables, are cooked at very high temperatures (above 120C).

Air-frying vs deep-frying

Air-frying vs deep-frying

If we consider the differences between deep-frying and air-frying, there’s an obvious winner (hint that it’s air frying!). The primary reason why air-frying is preferred over deep frying is due to the quantity of oil required. Deep fryers require just a few liters, but the air fryer doesn’t need any!

Air frying drastically reduces the amount of fat that is absorbed into food items compared to deep-frying. This is an advantage, and a “pro” for an air fryer as less oil typically means lower calories. It could lower the risk of weight gain.

There’s no reason not to take in fats–the Dietary Guidelines recommend fat make up between 20 and 35% of your daily diet. However, eating too many fried foods is an easy way to get too much fat and, consequently, calories.

Additionally, when the cooking oil gets heated, it could result in higher levels of inflammatory substances that can be taken into food. In this instance, there is less oil retention, which means fewer inflammatory compounds present in the food we’re eating.

This decreases the chance of developing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. Based on the kind of oil used, less oil may be a sign of a lower intake of saturated fats, which can also result in a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The air fryer could be especially useful when cooking starchy food items such as potatoes. It generally takes longer to be air fried than deep-fried ones, and starches tend to break down more slowly when cooked.

What does that describe? The starch could be easier to digest and may have a less significant influence on your blood sugar.

Air-frying and cooking in the oven

Air-frying and cooking in the oven

Since oven cooking and air-frying use similar heating methods (i.e., hot air), the food will typically have the identical nutritional profile, notwithstanding of which appliance you select. This sounds like a win!

Research has proven that air-frying fish can reduce the quantity of polyunsaturated fatty acids (think omega-3 fats, which are decent for your heart) in fish and could increase the number of inflammatory substances. 

It’s vital to remember that every time food is heated (aka cooked), the composition of the food will alter, and inflammatory compounds may be formed. For instance, research has found how roasting (and or even microwave-ing) fish may alter the composition of fats and cause inflammatory substances.

This study also revealed that adding herbs to fish could aid in reducing the fat oxidation which occurs when the fish is air-fried; therefore, you should cook your fish using anti-inflammatory herbs.

There is a possibility that the extreme temperature levels of the air fryer may increase the speed of these processes; further research is needed to confirm the impact of this.

Are air-fried foods good for you?

Are air-fried foods good for you

Let’s consider the last question: is this air fryer “healthy?” It is contingent on what we mean when we say “healthy” and the other cooking methods we use to compare it with.

In general, when compared with deep-frying, air fryers are healthier choices since it is less calorific and could cause less inflammation, reducing the chance of developing chronic diseases in the future.

If you compare the air fryer and baking ovens, the choice isn’t so evident, but it likely doesn’t have any impact.

When considering the question “what is healthy,” the main factor is the kind of food you consume and the type of food you put into an air-fryer. Nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat fish, and lean meats are typically equally nutritious in an air fryer as in the oven.

But, the air fryer isn’t “free access” to consume unlimited quantities of high-calorie food just because it’s healthier than deep-frying. It’s also vital to note that the primary benefit of air-frying over deep-frying is the absence of oil. So should you decide to add significant quantities of oil to your air-fried food, the results aren’t as dramatic.

The most important thing is the bottom line

If you are someone who eats lots of fried foods, an air fryer is the best option for you. If you usually cook your food using the oven, an air fryer could be a fantastic option to add more flavor to your meals. Start by experimenting with vegetables and potatoes or chicken! Be aware that it’s not an appliance that will make all foods “healthy.”

Darsh Chavda

My education started at Bombay Cambridge International School, which led me to complete a Master’s Degree in Food Biotechnology through the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai. Besides that, I’ve been testing food in the lab for 12 years, and as a food journalist, I have acquired all the essential knowledge required to guide people with their health-related queries.

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