It’s probably no surprise that air fryers have become as popular as they are. They fit on a countertop and can make your favorite unhealthy foods healthier. They leave vegetables and meat with a crispy crust and a moist, tender middle. People swear by them, but are they really all they’re cracked up to be? Like anything else, air fryers have pros and cons. Before you invest in one, consider:
Pro: They can reduce your calorie intake.
Air fryers are intended to produce fried flavors with very little oil. Compared to deep-frying, air frying is much healthier. For people who like fried foods, switching to air-fried versions can help them cut up to 80% of their caloric intake. It also reduces the amount of fat in foods, so it’s a good option for people trying to reduce their fat intake or balance their macronutrients, even if they don’t necessarily want to cut calories.
Con: They mostly helps people who already eat fried foods.
If you aren’t already into french fries, tempura vegetables, or fried chicken, an air fryer probably won’t be a huge help for you. Its main benefit is its ability to replicate deep fried foods using far less oil, so, if you’re not a big fried food eater, you probably won’t get much out of it.
Pro: They’re great for picky eaters.
For kids and people who aren’t big into eating vegetables, air frying can help make them more appealing without ruining their nutritional content or adding a lot of extra fat. Air-frying vegetables is a quick, easy way to give them a more enticing flavor and texture, which can go a long way toward encouraging picky eaters to broaden their horizons.
Con: They’re not great for large families.
Air fryers aren’t very big — about the size of a coffee maker. They can handle about a pound to three pounds of food at a time, which means that they’re definitely not going to be a go-to option for large family meals. Crispy foods tend to get soggy and unappealing as they sit out and get cold, so making several batches of air-fried foods isn’t really a helpful way to compensate for the device’s small size. they’re better for individuals, couples, or small families.
Pro: They may reduce levels of carcinogens.
Frying starchy foods in oil produces a compound called acrylamide, which is carcinogenic. Air frying produces far less acrylamide, which means that air-fried foods have less carcinogenic potential than their deep-fried counterparts. The difference is significant, too — according to one study, air-fried potatoes contained as much as 90% less acrylamide than deep-fried ones.
Con: But not as much as you think.
While air-frying produces lower levels of acrylamide, it can actually increase the amount of other carcinogens. Air fryers are designed to cook quickly at very high temperatures, so it’s easy to burn food. Heterocyclic amines are potentially carcinogenic compounds produced when meat is cooked at high temperatures for too long. The longer the meat is exposed to high heat, the more heterocyclic amines are produced. Air fryers can reduce your exposure to acrylamide but may increase your exposure to heterocyclic amines.
Pro: Air fryers are safer.
Deep frying involves heating a large volume of oil, which can splatter, spill, cause burns, and even catch fire. Air fryers use little to no oil, so the risk of burns and grease fires is drastically lowered.
Are air fryers a healthy option? They certainly can be, depending on your dietary habits. If you’re already a devotee of grilled vegetables, salads, and steamed vegetables, adding an air fryer to your culinary repertoire probably isn’t going to do much for you. On the other hand, if you really enjoy fried foods, an air fryer might be the perfect way to cut calories, lower your fat intake, and reduce your exposure to certain carcinogens.