Advertised as a healthy, guilt-free way to enjoy your favorite fried foods, air fryers have experienced a recent surge in popularity.

They are claimed to help lower the fat content of popular foods like french fries, chicken wings, empanadas and fish sticks.

But just how healthy is cooking with an air fryer?

This article will take a look at the evidence and determine if the benefits of using an air fryer really outweigh the risks.

What Is an Air Fryer and How Does It Work?

An air fryer is a popular kitchen appliance used to make fried foods such as meat, pastries and potato chips.

It works by circulating hot air around the food to produce a crunchy, crispy exterior.

This also results in a chemical reaction known as the Maillard effect, which occurs between an amino acid and a reducing sugar in the presence of heat. It leads to alterations in the color and flavor of foods (1Trusted Source).

Air-fried foods are touted as a healthy alternative to deep-fried foods, thanks to their lower content of fat and calories.

Instead of completely submerging the food in oil, air-frying requires just a tablespoon of oil to achieve a similar taste and texture to deep-fried foods.

Using an Air Fryer Can Help Cut Fat Content

Deep-fried foods are generally higher in fat than foods prepared using other cooking methods.

For example, a chicken breast that has been fried contains about 30% more fat than an equal amount of roasted chicken (2, 3).

Some manufacturers claim that using an air fryer can cut the fat content of fried foods by up to 75%.

This is because air fryers require significantly less fat than traditional deep fryers. While many recipes for deep-fried dishes call for up to 3 cups (750 ml) of oil, air-fried foods need only about 1 tablespoon (15 ml).

This means that deep fryers use up to 50 times more oil than air fryers and, while not all of that oil is absorbed by the food, using an air fryer can significantly cut down on the overall fat content of your food.

One study compared the characteristics of deep-fried and air-fried french fries and found that air-frying resulted in a final product with substantially less fat but a similar color and moisture content (4Trusted Source).

This can have a major impact on your health, as a higher intake of fat from vegetable oils has been associated with an increased risk of conditions like heart disease and inflammation

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