A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Air frying: Consider the health pros and cons

Air frying is a popular cooking technique now, thanks to newer cooking technology that requires less oil, less fry time and another culinary utensil on your counter.

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries

Air frying is a popular cooking technique now, thanks to newer cooking technology that requires less oil, less fry time and another culinary utensil on your counter.

Air frying cooks by circulating hot air at high temperatures and at high speeds around the food, like a convection oven, to form crisp food similar to fried foods – crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.

Touted as a healthy way to cook deep-fried foods, air frying is an alternative “and we do like our fried foods,” said Chrisanne Urban, a Marshfield Clinic Health System dietitian.

You may want to consider this technique to replace shallow frying, when food is fried in a skillet with a little oil or fat; or deep frying, cooking with a lot of oil or fat. And, you may want to consider these pros and cons:

Pros of air fryers

  • Energy-efficiency. Air fryers use less energy than a conventional oven.
  • Less oil. Compared to deep-frying, air-fried foods have 70-80 percent less calories and fat drains away from the food during cooking.
  • They also speed up cooking time, don’t use a lot of hot oils which can splatter and are energy-efficient.

Cons of air fryers

  • Because foods cook fast at 300-400 degrees, watch closely to avoid burning food. Cooked even a few minutes too long can mean you’ve got burnt or charred food, a known cancer causer.
  • Also, foods can dry out quickly with less fat and higher cooking temps; and they’re fairly small so if you plan to cook for more than several people you’ll have to do so in batches.
  • Make sure the fryer you purchase is made of BPA-free plastic, since BPA is a carcinogen.
  • You’re somewhat limited to types of food you can cook. Most popular is potatoes and chicken.

Urban reminds fried-food lovers that fried food is still fried food, so all things in moderation.

“It doesn’t mean you can eat all you want, since it’s about having balance in your diet,” she said. “Also, there’s not enough research yet about safety long-term of eating food made from this cooking method. Is it healthier? That’s not yet known but air-fried foods can be worked into your diet while you still bake and use other methods.”

If you own an air fryer, Urban suggests trying this recipe for a very popular side dish.

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries

Prep time: 4 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces sweet potato
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil (or oil of choice)

Instructions

  1. Preheat air fryer to 380 degrees.
  2. Slice sweet potato into ¼- to ½-inch widths. Try to keep size fairly consistent.
  3. Place potato slices in a mixing bowl along with oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Toss to coat.
  4. Transfer mixture to the air fryer and cook until tender and crispy, about 20 minutes. Shake the basket a few times to rearrange fries and use a spatula to turn them. Check fries to make sure they don’t burn.
  5. Taste test and add more salt if needed.

Source: APinchOfHealthy.com

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