Is an air fryer healthy? Does an air fryer cause cancer?

Welcome back to Air Fryer Bro! Today we want to tackle the connection between air fryers and health! How healthy is an air fryer, and does it cause cancer?  The cancer link kind of shocked me at first, but it is truly out there as a thing! If you look on the web, you will see people making this very link! So, if you are worried about these problems, sit back and relax. We don’t have ALL the answers, but we have quite a few!! Let’s start with the short answer!!

An air fryer is a healthier alternative to frying food with a deep fat oil fryer. Other than that, it is mostly comparable to the health benefits of oven cooking food. Regarding cancer, there is no proper evidence to link an air fryer to cancer. It doesn’t give off cancer causing radiation in any way. Some people believe that burned or overly browned food could have cancer causing carcinogens in them, but this has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt at the time of writing.

Air fryers require a lot of thought to use properly! but are they healthier than other kitchen appliances? We find out today.
A lot of people are wondering if air fryers are linked to cancer??

Are you still here for the long answer!!?? Before we dive straight into the nuts and bolts of this question, lets first give some background information. If you do want to get straight to it, simply use the quick navigation option below.

As an additional caveat, I would like to say that we (at Air Fryer Bro) are not qualified scientists or dietitians. We are simply giving our opinion based on the facts that we have discovered. Of course, this opinion could be wrong! If you have a different opinion, we would love to hear all about it in the comments section below. Let’s start the discussion! We simply want to get people thinking!

From kids to adults and seniors, very few individuals can turn down the taste of hot fried chicken wings, yummy fish sticks and fresh French fries. We fry foods because fried food simply tastes good. The trouble is that regularly indulging in fried delicacies could be risky for your health. We all know that deep fried dishes are certainly on the “naughty” list.

fried chicken, can it be cooked in an air fryer in a healthier way?
Who doesn’t love fried chicken??

Most health and cooking experts treat food deep fried in oil as unhealthy, as such foods lead to a wide range of health complications. Obesity can lead to health conditions such as diabetes, heart attacks and arthritis. For this reason, people who can’t stay off deep-fried treats have been looking for alternative ways to cook them.

Enter air fryers, that allow almost oil-free frying. Air fryers are the culmination of modern technology combining with the culinary world. These relatively new kitchen gadgets have been consistently appealing to fried food lovers in recent years. More and more manufacturers have joined the race to develop this modern cooking technique in an effort to make fried food more healthy.

Many households across the world now sport these fancy kitchen appliances. An air fryer does more than just frying up diet-busting delicacies. It fries, roasts, grills and even bakes. This makes the air fryer the go-to kitchen appliance for anyone who wants to enjoy healthier versions of fried foods, without the calories associated with deep frying.

What’s All The Fuss About?

The air fryer has boomed in popularity recently. We live in an information age, with increased awareness of the health hazards of some foods. Right from the ingredients used to proper cooking techniques, everyone is becoming more and more concerned with the kinds of food we consume and how it might affect our health.

As cooking technology becomes more sophisticated, concerns about appliance safety continue to rise. Is the air fryer hype warranted? Is it healthier than traditional oil frying? There are some claims that air fryers are not as healthy as they are advertised, and some even say that air fryers cause cancer. Who should you believe? With cancer being one of the most dreaded words today, we decided to scrutinize the evidence to determine whether or not an air fryer causes cancer. This monster (cancer not air fryers!) in the closet is yet to find a cure. This article will break down the complete truth about air fryers, from the Air Fryer Bro’s perspective!

What Is An Air Fryer And How Does It Work?

Before we jump straight into answering the question whether an air fryer is toxic or not, it is vital first to understand what an air fryer is, how it works and the concept behind its cooking process. An air fryer is a counter top cooking appliance like a microwave that cooks your food using hot air circulating around it. It literally fries with air. Based on Rapid Air Technology, the premise behind this revolutionary appliance is very similar in context to a powerful, mini convection oven that circulates fine oil particles through hot air resulting in crispy foods but with less use of oil.

this is what a bucket style air fryer looks like.

The suspended basket and inner chamber of the air fryer let hot air that’s up to 200 degrees C circulate around the food. It results in even, quick and crispy food in just 10-12 minutes. This effect is referred to as the Maillard Effect. The scientific principle occurs when reducing sugar (inside the food) interacts with an amino acid (when there is the presence of heat) resulting in changes in the color and taste of food.

If you want to bake in an air fryer no problem, you can place suitably sized pans and dishes inside. Unlike other fryers that use hot oil, food cooked using air fryers has fewer calories and fat. Dried foods are increasingly gaining popularity and for a good reason. Just think of healthy dried treats that are just as finger-licking good as the real thing. This is the chief selling point of air fryers. There are hundreds of models of air fryers on Amazon and other online stores.

This growing interest in air fryers will usually become obvious around the holiday period, when there will often be a mad dash to buy these appliances (kind of an E-dash, as most people shop on Amazon these days!!).

The Food is Enticing, But Are Air Fryers Healthy to Use?

You have probably signed up at your local gym to cut down on body fat. While working out works for some people, there are others that find it challenging to control their weight. These days, a lot of people are starting to work out that many fats in your foods are not good for you, and deep fried foods are high on fats. Fats that are way too unhealthy to be part of a standard diet.

a graphic to show good fats versus bad fats.
Good fats and bad fats

An air fryer can sort out this little problem. It is no secret that air fryers are one of the safest methods to prepare scrumptious and crispy foods without worrying about your health. The reason is simple: air frying doesn’t involve oil. Well, you can apply a small amount of oil to improve taste. But you get the idea, right?

Fried chicken, for instance, contains almost 30 percent more fats than roasted chicken. Whether you want to make chicken nuggets, fish and chips, steak, or even donuts, air fryers can cut down the fat content in meals by as much as 80 percent as stated by Phillips, the pioneers of the air fryer. It’s a wonderful thing when it works this way. Traditionally, frying required at least 3-4 cups of oil, but with an air fryer, you only need a tablespoon of oil for the equivalent amount of food.

Air fried and deep fried food may have a similar taste and color, but in terms of calorie content, they are completely different. There are many user experiences to attest to this fact. Besides fat and calories, air fried foods are low on some potentially harmful compounds present in traditionally fried foods.

a chart looking at how healthy an air fryer is compared to a deep fat fryer.

Who Should Use An Air Fryer?

Some folks opt for pre-packaged foods to avoid the time and energy spent on cooking. This magic appliance will cook your food extremely fast, and save you from unhealthy snacks. If you want to take the guilt away from the guilty pleasure of snacking, or if you’re trying a new diet that doesn’t involve oil, you should include an air fryer in your shopping list.

Food can be quickly cooked to achieve the same results as when roasting, baking, toasting or frying. When you switch to a healthier lifestyle by investing in an air fryer, you increase your chances of living a long and happy life. So to answer your question, when compared side-by-side with other frying methods, air fryers are healthy to use.

What is Some Of The Best Food To Air Fry?

As a general rule of the thumb, any food you’re used to frying, like chicken wings and potatoes, can be air fried. When making home-made sweet potato fries, for instance, it can be challenging to make them crispy in your conventional oven. But with an air fryer, you can sprinkle them with a seasoning  of your choice and a dash of oil, put them in your air fryer and enjoy!

Air Fryer Pro Tip Avoid overloading your air fryer’s basket as this can slow down cooking and prevent hot air from reaching all the food. The result is unevenly cooked food. Nobody likes soggy fries.

Does an Air Fryer Cause Cancer?

According to WHO, cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for taking the lives of over 9 million people in 2018. Can an air fryer cause cancer? There are various rumors that air fryers cause cancer. You may have read in the newspapers or watched in the news about different types of cancer and how they may be caused by air fryers. Believe it or not, this is a common misconception. It’s 2019, and there’s still no tangible proof that air fryers cause cancer. If you want an exhaustive answer to this common question, keep reading.

The basis of this fallacy is the concern over the toxic compound acrylamide in food. This cancer-causing and potentially neurotoxic chemical was discovered back in 2002. The biggest danger about consuming fried foods has to do with the way frying changes some carbohydrate-rich foods into probable carcinogens. Cancers in fried foods are commonly caused by acrylamide. Acrylamides are substances often found in plastics, paper, waste and drinking water according to the National Cancer Institute. It is the byproduct of a chemical reaction that happens at high temperatures between the amino acid asparagine and sugars.

Lab rats injected with acrylamides have shown that exposure to these chemical substances increases the risk of several types of cancer including ovarian, endometrial and kidney cancers. Acrylamide is converted to glycidamide compound in the body. This conversion causes damages to mutations in DNA. However, most epidemiological studies in humans haven’t found consistent evidence that exposure to dietary acrylamide is linked to the risk of any type of cancer. This inconsistency can be attributed to the difficulty in determining someone’s acrylamide intake on the basis of their reported diet. 

Even though this link of acrylamide consumption to cancer in humans is tenuous at best, most people would probably prefer to reduce their consumption of them “just in case”. So, we will provide some tips in this article of how to do this.

Consuming food in its natural, raw, whole-food state is the healthiest option. But there are some foods that need to be cooked to be eaten. In such foods, steaming, sautéing and blanching are far superior alternatives to frying. When you heat food to temperatures that exceed 248 degrees Fahrenheit, this can trigger the secretion of acrylamides in the heated foods. Carbohydrate-heavy foods like potatoes are the main culprits as they are considered the primary source of these substances. This fact has made many folks believe that potato chips and French fries are carcinogenic. Other foods likely to produce acrylamide include cocoa products, grains like cookies and breakfast cereal, and roasted coffee beans.

To Cut Acrylamides From Your Diet, The FDA Recommends:

· Baking muffins, bread and potatoes to a light golden color.

· Avoiding fried meals.

· Going for lightly toasted or un-toasted bread.

· Avoid storing potatoes in the refrigerator and instead store them in a pantry at room temperature.

Using An Air Fryer Will Help You Reduce The Production Of Acrylamide In Fried Foods

While it’s true that heating food at high temperatures can trigger the production of these substances, nutritionists often advise that deep-fried foods should be air dried in the oven to reduce the risk of cancer. Note that this case applies to deep-fried foods, and the process can be a tedious one. Using an air fryer can save you this hassle.

Using an air fryer (if used properly) doesn’t lead to the production of acrylamide. If anything, air frying your food eliminates many of the risks associated with it, including the possible link to cancer. Thanks to its adjustable time and temperature controls, an air fryer eliminates most of the factors associated with overcooking.

According to health and medical agencies, you should fry to only golden yellow. Cooking to dark brown level may also lead to producing carcinogens. If you regularly enjoy junk food, especially those that are fried in such a way to create a charred or browned surface, you should take caution. By inputting the right settings, the chances of your foods overcooking are slim. In case you forget to shut off your air fryer, the inbuilt auto timer will do it for you.

Air Fryer Pro Tip

Temperatures and instructions for cooking time vary from one air fryer model to another. Read your product manual carefully to understand how it works.

Does an Air Fryer Give Off Radiation?

Radiation is one of the best-known carcinogens. It refers to the emission of energy as electromagnetic waves. Higher energy radiation like UV, x-ray or gamma radiation is called ionizing radiation, which is the type of radiation that can interfere with DNA and contribute to causing cancer. Radiation of this nature mutates genes and to put that in plain English, gene mutation is the primary cause of all cancer situations. If an air fryer could cause cancer, it’s either through carcinogens or radiation poisoning.

We have already looked at how an air fryer works. The radiated heat circulating the food compartment is basically the type of radiation used. But this radiation type isn’t the ionizing one that is harmful. The heat is emitted from a hot heating element, and this hot air is circulated using a fan. This working mechanism of an air fryer means it is not responsible for radiation.

So don’t get freaked out by all those people on the internet telling you otherwise!

Air Fryer Pro Tip

If you want to invest in an air fryer, I recommend you purchase a model that uses BPA-free plastic. Other factors to consider include wattage, basket capacity, removable drawer, extra features, brand and your budget

Pros Of Using An Air Fryer

In comparison to deep fryers, air fryers enable low-fat cooking which reduces the overall fat content. They function without fattening oils and cook food with up to 80 percent less fat.

Compared to other cooking methods like an oven or even deep frying, air fryers have faster cooking times. You just pop your food in the fryer for a handful of minutes and you’re good to go!

Deep frying and hot plates can be challenging to clean. With air fryers, cleanup is a breeze. You can easily disassemble the parts into small pieces and clean. Besides that, air fryers are safe to use and most parts are machine washable.

Compared to most electric ovens, air fryers use considerably less electricity making them resourceful when it comes to electricity bills and environmentally friendly as they reduce carbon emissions.

Air fryers are versatile in the sense that you can use them to fry, roast, grill or simply warm up cooked food. They are also user-friendly.

Thanks to the automatic timer, air fryers enable hands free cooking. You can attend to other household chores as you cook without fear that food will get burned.

Is There A Downside To Using Air Fryers?

Sadly, yes. It is crucial you get the whole picture before you get too excited.

For starters, air frying encourages you to eat poorly. Most people think that since you can cook healthy foods with air fryers, they can eat fried food every day – WRONG. A low-fat, air fried diet may sound good on paper, but the truth is that you will end up missing the benefits of plant-based fats such as olive oil and avocado oil. Both of these oils are essential for hormone and brain health.

By cooking food so intensely, burning food can be extremely easy if you are not accustomed to your particular air fryer model. So take your time to learn its nuances! And remember dark brown or charred food may be carcinogenic.

Another downside to using air fryers is that they can be ineffective in a large family setting. Most air fryers cook 1-3 pounds of food at a time, meaning it can be challenging to air-fry foods if you’re cooking for a large group of people. Manufacturers are working on models with extra large sizes, so be on the lookout if you have a large family. Oven style air fryers have already gone a long way to remedying this situation. So if size is your thing, you should get those air fryers out.

Final Thoughts

Despite some scaremongers out there, there is no shade of doubt that an air fryer is essential for healthy eating. Using an air fryer is much healthier than deep frying your foods in cooking oil. The “fried” flavor is not exactly the same as its oil made cousin, but the benefit to your health will be worth it.

And don’t be put off by the articles online warning of your impending doom and exposure to cancer, due to your air fryer. Radiation is not a worry, and if you use your air fryer correctly, excessively browned and burnt food shouldn’t be something you see often. If you do worry about this type of food carrying carcinogens, then an air fryer is certainly not going to add to that worry.

Air fryers are here to stay! We can still eat “fried” food and not feel bad about it! I know that my air fryer gets a lot of use, and one of main reasons I bought it was to enjoy this type of food!

If you have your own opinions and experiences with air fryers, we would love to hear all about them below in the comments section.

References used in this article:

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/03/05/air-fryers.aspx

https://doctor.ndtv.com/living-healthy/is-cooking-in-an-air-fryer-healthy-1813532

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/air-fryer

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