Published on 2 October 2022

    Can you maintain a healthy diet just by cooking with an air fryer? See what the professionals say and learn how to improve your overall well-being through your diet.

    Why is the air fryer unique? 

    There is little to debate when it comes to how much we love our fried foods. From French fries to fried chicken, it is hard not to enjoy these delicious morsels of food for their taste and texture. 

    So what’s the problem? One big reason why fried food is so enjoyable is because it soaks up a sizeable amount of oil that it is cooked in, contributing to that crispy and tender combination we enjoy so much. Routinely eating fried foods is a proven recipe for a litany of health conditions: fried foods clock in higher amounts of trans fat and calories, which are linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart diseases and diabetes.

    Enter the air-fryer. This revolutionary kitchen appliance has won over the hearts and guts of many by retaining a familiar crunch and flavour profile, while greatly reducing fat and calorie content at the same time. Not only is it deemed to be a healthier cooking method, it also is a lot more convenient to use than cooking with a deep-fryer.

    How do air fryers work? 

    Air-fryers cook by circulating hot air around your food, producing the same crispy texture that fried food possesses. Unlike the deep-fryer, which cooks food by submerging it within a bath of oil, air-frying only requires a tablespoon of oil to achieve a similar effect. 

    On average, air-frying reduces calorie intake by about 70% - 80%, making it ideal for fried food lovers who are working towards eating better while not compromising on taste. 

    Is air frying going to make me healthier?

    When comparing fried foods such as French fries and chicken nuggets, there is a clear advantage with cooking with an air-fryer. Ms Charmaine Zheng, Senior Dietitian, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), explained, “There is a significant 40% reduction in calories in air-fried French fries. Similarly, the calories are also reduced when choosing air-fried nuggets over deep-fried ones.  However, one’s diet will need to be predominantly deep-fried food to reduce calories to such a great extent of a 70%-80% reduction.”
    So, it is essential that you still prioritise a balanced, nutritional diet over a complete dependency on the cooking method. Dr Chan Po Fun, Consultant, Division of Cardiology, NTFGH explained, “What you cook in the air-fryer probably makes a greater difference to your heart health than whether you cook with an air-fryer. It is true that air-frying omits the need for the addition of oil, and effectively reduces fat content. However, this does not mean that the residual fat content is negligible; A sizeable portion still remains – and ends up in us when we consume the food.” If your goal is to design a healthy diet, there are various low-fat cooking methods that could be explored: Boiling, steaming, pan-frying, baking, as well as air-frying can reduce calories (from oil) in your dishes. Zheng continued, “Although air-fried foods may be healthier than deep-fried ones, it is important to pick the ‘right’ type of food. Are we using the air-fryer to reduce our guilt of eating high-fat nuggets? Or are we opting for the healthier choice by swapping our deep-fried fish for air-fried fish?” The bottom line So is air-frying ultimately healthy? While it is a healthier alternative when compared directly against traditional deep-frying, what you choose to cook remains to be the bigger factor in whether or not you are creating a healthier dietary plan for yourself. The air-fryer might be a convenient life hack, but if you’re looking at sustaining a diet purely with air-fried junk food, then there might be some dietary calculus that is off here. It’s a useful tool, not the end game to your health woes. Choose Fresh over processed f ood that may have excessive sugar, salt or fats Heavily processed food carries potential health effects because of how they have been altered during production. Skip the skin Consuming saturated fat contained within fried chicken skin directly relates to weight gain. When cooking chicken, remove the skin . Incorporate fish twice per week into your diet Cook whole grains, lean meats and vegetables using low-fat cooking methods . Maintain a healthy ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••• ••••••••••••••••••••••• Omega-3 can improve your cardiovascular health Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fats that are not produced by our bodies, therefore we have to get them from our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are an energy source that keep your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system functioning well. Use dietary vegetable oils high in Omega-3 flax, perilla, chia, canola Omega-6 fatty acids provide energy and play a key role in the immune system . INTAKE OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS INTAKE OF OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS Fish are the best food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and halibut may contribute to obesity, insulin insensitivity, inflammation and chronic diseases e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and heart failure will contribute to your overall well-being