Are air fryers healthy or not? Dietitians weigh in

air fryer
Photo: phonakins (Fair Use)

I had an air fryer for a short period of time, just a few months. During that period, I air fried lunch and dinner in that thing like there was no tomorrow. Frozen fries, sweet potatoes, Hot Pockets, vegetables (which went exceptionally well), pretty much everything was game. Then, one day, I flew too close to the sun and tried cramming in an enormous sweet potato that was too big for the air fryer basket. I heard a popping sound as I broke the heating element, and that was the end of our air fryer.

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There are two reasons for my delight in the air fryer, which I know, yes, yes, operates like a convection oven (as everyone likes to tell me, constantly): one, it works fast, and two, you don’t need much added fat—or even any at all—to make crispy food happen. It’s definitely not a total replacement for deep fried foods, but it’ll partially scratch that itch.

But is it really healthier? HuffPost asked some dietitians for their opinions regarding air fryers.

“Air fryers are one of the best ways to get the same texture and taste of fried foods without the unhealthiness that comes along with them,” Bansari Acharya, registered dietician nutritionist, told HuffPost. “It preserves the nutrients in the food items, as it doesn’t expose it to hot oils. It also reduces the amount of trans and saturated fats in foods, reducing the risk for heart disease.” You’re still going to need at least a little oil to get the best results from your food, though.

And, apparently, you can also open up more nutrients from air frying, especially from different types of tubers and legumes. Ella Davar, registered dietician, said. “When cooked with convection heat, resistant starches in sweet potatoes, yams, corn, beans and legumes are easier to digest for most people and therefore improve the bioavailability of nutrients.”

The nutritionists almost unanimously responded that vegetables were their favorite food to air fry. You can also air-fry tofu after breading it in breadcrumbs. Our colleague Claire Lower at Lifehacker attests to it. Potatoes do quite well too, but with a trick, according to registered dietician Karen Smith: “I learned the secret to air frying potatoes without oil is to first boil or steam them until they are fork-tender. Make sure to cut and season them before putting them in the air fryer.”

So there you have it: dieticians approve the use of air fryers as part of a healthy diet.

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Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

mrgoodbeer
mrgoodbeer

Was the sweet potato the size of a watermelon or something?!