The world is finally waking up to the increased health risks associated with excess oil consumption and therefore looking for ways to cut down its use. Since deep frying requires a lot of oil, health-conscious individuals who want their food crispy sans the excess oil are bringing home fancy air fryers. In the United States alone, the sale of air fryers increased by 76% over the last two years! Air frying is believed to be a healthy alternative to deep frying since it helps cut down the health risks associated with deeply-fried foods and air frying gives the same texture as deep-fried food. In India too, from pakoras to samosas, everything that goes through air frying, is getting labelled as “healthy.” But is air fried food good for weight loss and should you be placing all your weight loss hopes in the air fryer’s basket? Let’s find out:
Why Deep Frying is Not Good For Health and Weight Loss?
1. Even the healthiest of oils, for example, olive oil, can be high in calories (up to 124 calories per tbsp!) Other oils that are commonly used for deep frying such as seed oils and vegetable oils are pro-inflammatory, raising inflammation in the body, increasing oxidative stress, leading to cellular damage, and trigger weight gain as a result.
2. A compound called acrylamide, which forms as a result of a reaction between certain amino acids and sugars (in asparagine-rich starchy foods such as potatoes), when cooked at high temperatures such as deep frying, is believed to increase the risk of certain cancers. High acrylamide levels have been found in fried potato products. Also read: “5 Real Reasons you are Craving French Fries!”
3. Partially hydrogenated oils such as vegetable oil, that are used in some restaurants and fast food joints for deep frying, may contain a high amount of transfat. Studies have shown that a high amount of transfat in the diet can lead to obesity and insulin resistance. Choosing healthy oils such as olive oil and switching to alternative cooking methods such as grilling, steaming, air frying etc., would help eliminate transfat from your diet.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
Air fryers are appliances that produce crispy results similar to traditional fried foods. An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that cooks food by circulating hot air around it using a convection mechanism. Despite its name, an air fryer doesn’t actually fry food in the traditional sense of immersing it in hot oil. Instead, it uses rapid air technology to produce crispy and evenly cooked results, similar to deep-fried foods, but with significantly less oil. The main components of an air fryer include a heating element and a powerful fan. The heating element generates heat, which is then circulated by the fan throughout the cooking chamber. The hot air rapidly surrounds the food, creating a crispy outer layer while cooking the inside. So, an air fryer gives you crispy and crunchy food, similar to deeply-fried foods with just a little amount of oil. The hot air circulated in an air fryer, eliminates the need to use multiple cups of oil, most of the times only 1 tbsp of oil is required.
Benefits of Air Frying:
1. Less Oil is Needed: One of the major advantages of using an air fryer is that it requires significantly less oil compared to deep frying. In traditional deep frying, food is fully submerged in hot oil, which results in a higher oil absorption and can make even normal food calorie dense. Air frying would need just 1 tbsp of oil in comparison, and just by changing the cooking method, you can save so many calories.
2. No Need To Re-Use Oil: Each time oil is heated for cooking, it undergoes chemical changes and degradation. Repeated heating can lead to the formation of harmful compounds, such as free radicals and oxidized fats. Consuming these degraded or oxidized fats regularly may have negative health effects and potentially contribute to weight gain. Certain oils high in saturated or trans fats, when reused multiple times, can have a detrimental impact on health and contribute to weight gain.
3. Lowers Acrylamide Content: Air fryers typically cook food at lower temperatures compared to deep frying. They also remove excess moisture from foods and the dry environment of air frying can help minimize the conditions favorable for acrylamide formation.
4. Helps To Eliminate Transfat: Researchers say that diets that are rich in transfat cause a redistribution of fat tissue around the abdominal area, leading to belly fat! Cooking oils are the usual suspect when it comes to transfat and cutting down on oil consumption can help eliminate transfat from your diet.
6. Preserves Nutrients Better: Air frying can help retain more nutrients in food compared to deep frying.
How To Maximize Air Frying Benefits:
1. Use cooking spray – Cooking sprays spray an even coating of oil, allowing you to use less oil overall. By using cooking spray instead of pouring or brushing oil directly onto the food, you can significantly reduce the calorie content of your air-fried dishes. This can contribute to weight loss by lowering your overall calorie intake.
2. Use healthy oils such as olive oil – As we have mentioned above, certain cooking oils can raise inflammation in the body, so switch to olive oil that helps to fight inflammation instead.
3. Avoid air frying stuff such as samosas, pakoras, French fries – particularly if you are trying to lose weight and want to cut down on calories. Even an air fryer cannot transform samosas and French fries into weight-loss friendly things.
4. Use veggies like kale, zucchini, carrots, beetroots, and even radish to make healthy chips. You can also make chips out of apple slices!
5. Air fry low-calorie veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, and have them guilt free.
6. Avoid air frying ultra-processed chicken nuggets and other such highly-processed foods. Ultra-processed chicken nuggets often contain additives, preservatives, and unhealthy ingredients, which may not provide optimal nutritional value. Also read: “10 Instant Foods To Cut Down To Lose Weight.”
Summing up, air frying is a better alternative to deep frying, depending on the food you choose for cooking. So, majorly whether air frying is healthy or not depends on what you are cooking in it. If your goal is to lose weight, you would have to do more than place all your eggs in the air-frying basket. You would have to eat the right kind of food, in the right quantity, and be physically active to get into a calorie deficit to burn excess fat and the diet plans on Rati Beauty diet can help you lose weight without crash dieting. A fancy air fryer in the kitchen is not a sure-shot way to to reach your goal weight or washboard abs. There’s also this misconception that “any” food when it comes out of air fryer is “healthy,” – it’s not! Air frying can be used to cook healthy foods such as vegetables, tofu, paneer, fish, chicken. But to make pakoras and samosas, save the air fryer for a rainy day!