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Is an air fryer healthier and cheaper?

Air fryers seem to have stood the test of time (hype) and become more than just about cooking chips. Branded as a healthier option to deep fat frying and more recently hitting a new craze around energy and cost saving - let’s explore the health benefits of air fryers, recipes for the air fryer and a list of which air fryers are recommended to buy if like me you still don’t have one.

Recently a client has just bought a new air fryer as part of her health kick and asked for some recipes to help her with next month's meals and not just end up as an unloved kitchen appliance taking up counter space!

What is an air fryer?

The air fryer rapidly circulates hot air and the time saving is a reason why the popularity has been there over other methods of cooking. One of the main benefits has been that it gives foods like chips the crispy outer layer without adding fat or very little (3).

Air fryers range in cost from around £60 - £200 - the popular Ninja air fryer rose in sales last year by 22,000% (2). - we can all agree they became popular, like the new banana bread of lockdown! If you are looking for a more affordable one try second hand online or in charity shops.

Is an air fryer healthier?

As a Nutritionist I don’t like to think of or coach one food or ways of cooking to be more superior than others. If someone asked me is it “healthier” my response would be compared to what? But as with all things popular, the healthier approach has been a key selling feature so let’s have a look.

If you cook foods that generally you wouldn’t normally add oils or fats to when cooking, then using an air fryer isn’t probably a healthier way to cook (3) although it might be quicker and cheaper. However, when comparing foods that you would cook in a deep fat fryer or the oven and add fats (oils) to it, cooking with the air fryer is lower in fat and calories (1) - so yes could be seen as a healthier option. Cooking with an air fryer is healthier because deep fat frying uses large amounts of oils (saturated fats) - for example cooking deep fried recipes that require 750ml of oil, the air fryer would only require about 15ml - that’s 3 cups of oil compared to 1 teaspoon! (3). Lower intakes of saturated fats and calories have been associated with a number of health benefits including heart related diseases and obesity (1).

Is an air fryer cheaper?

More recently the popularity has gone beyond just a health interest due to the cost saving benefits with demands for air fryers soaring to 3000%; it’s no surprise when an average air fryer costs an average of £55.71 a year to run, whilst a electric oven is a lot higher at £335.57 a year (ITV). Most air fryers will use less energy than an electric oven because they are smaller and heat up more quickly. (3).

Air fryer recipes

When looking for these recipes I wanted to help increase my clients nutrient intake across the next month with aims of

> Less fried / processed foods

> Increase in vegetables

> Variety of protein sources

> Adding oily fish into the diet

Written by Jade Mottley - Human Nutrition MSc & Sport Science BSc



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