Air You Frying to Eat Healthier?
A Bite-Size Read for Your Health and Your Waistline
It’s amazing how quickly air fryers became a common household appliance. I think we all know someone who constantly raves about theirs and tries to convince us to buy one! Who doesn’t love eating fried foods without the health drawbacks?!
With this claim to fame and the pandemic pushing all of us to eat at home, it makes sense why 37% of US homes had one by July 2020. Black Friday isn’t that far away…maybe you can snag one then! But are air fryers all that and a side of fries?
Before we can determine if an air fryer is our next kitchen purchase, let’s learn how they work. An air fryer is essentially a small convection oven. A heating mechanism at the top heats the air, then a fan circulates it. The rapid movement of the air along with the high temperatures (350–400 degrees) in a small space crisps the food. Crispy fries and more without having to dunk it into a quart of spitting hot oil? WIN! Unlike deep frying, the oil in an air fryer should be just enough to lightly coat the food. Otherwise, your dinner may get soggy. Because it forces you to limit the amount of oil you use, an air fryer can be a great way to enjoy your favorite foods without the added fat and health drawbacks of traditional frying.
This makes an air fryer seem like a great option to make fried foods at home. But beware: the air fryer’s high temperature cooking methods may not be as great as we think. This cooking method makes foods more prone to blackening, you know the most delicious part when you grill something? These are called AGES (Advanced Glycation End Products), also known as glycotoxins. An abundance of AGES can cause increased oxidative stress, kidney disease, and atherosclerosis (when plaque builds up on your artery walls). Oxidative stress can damage your cells and DNA, which can lead to early aging, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
This means, it’s all about what you’re putting in the air fryer! For resistant starches, like beans and sweet potatoes, cooking at high temperatures can make them easier for our bodies to digest. An air fryer may be the way to go with these foods. But foods high in fat and protein, such as eggs and meat, are more likely to blacken in the air fryer, creating those harmful AGES. At the end of the day, an air fryer is still frying your food, even if it’s healthier because of the minimal oil. You’ll want to choose carefully when you cook in the air fryer and when you cook in a pan or oven to build your plate.
If before the air fryer, you’d eat fried foods only on occasion, maybe stick to that frequency. If the air fryer is tempting you to eat “fried” food more often, because it seems healthier, take a pause. Fried foods by any mechanism are still fried foods. Remember it’s always a choice. Do what works for you and your health. Perhaps that Black Friday deal will have you fighting for your air fryer.