Air fryers. You’ve probably heard of them. These countertop cooking devices circulate heat at high temperatures to fry, grill, or bake without using oil. They create a crispy outside layer while leaving food moist and chewy on the inside. Because these kitchen gadgets have become so phenomenally popular recently, people are naturally starting to question whether or not they make good on their promises of making “air-fried food” healthy.
Little to No Oil Is Used, Which Is Great
Air fryers cook food by moving super-heated air around it. It cuts down on cooking time and typically reduces the amount of oil you need to almost nothing. And one thing is for certain: Cooking chicken tenders with air is definitely going to mean a reduction in calories from cooking in oil. In this way, air fryers can definitely be healthier. Your food is absorbing dramatically less oil, which means you’re taking in significantly less calories.
Air Frying Isn’t the ‘Be All and End All’
Just because you can air “fry” something doesn’t mean you should. I’m also not saying, “Go ahead and deep fry that egg roll or those French fries,” though. What I am saying is that you still have to maintain a healthy balance to your meals. Using an air fryer to cook chicken might be healthier than using a pan full of oil, but grilling that chicken is an even healthier option and shouldn’t be overlooked just because you’re in the presence of an air fryer. Don’t forget, you should be taking in a certain amount of good fats per day such as olive or avocado oil in small amounts. Either of these drizzled over the top of Brussels sprouts you roast in the oven is going to be a healthier option than air frying breaded okra. You have to maintain a balance.
Balance is key to almost everything in your life. You don’t want to go to the gym and only work your arms, or only do cardio. You don’t want to go on a diet and eat the same thing every day for the rest of your life. The same goes with cooking methods. If you’re in the mood for something fried, using an air fryer is going to obviously be a healthier option than pouring a gallon of canola oil in a pan and throwing in some mozzarella sticks. But make sure you’re pairing that food, which is still high in calories, with a salad, plenty of water, good fats, and protein to maintain a healthy diet. The air fryer isn’t the answer to all of your dietary problems or questions, but if you use it correctly, it can definitely be a tool that helps you keep cravings, calories, and even the time you spend in the kitchen in check.
Ronda Elsenbrook is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Nutrition Services at Kelsey-Seybold. She’s an essential part of her patients’ medical team providing medical nutrition therapy, counseling, and education as needed.