Air fryers have become quite popular kitchen appliances with millions having been sold, but there have been some health concerns about their use.
They work similarly to deep fryers, but without the oil, so they can be used to fry your typical fried foods like French fries, burgers, pastries and the like. The question has often arisen about the safety of using air fryers. Many people want to know whether these fryers cause cancer and how healthy the food cooked in them is.
This article will look at how the air fryer works, if there are any side effects to eating food that is air fried, and whether there is any evidence of cancer from consuming air fried food. But to start, let’s look more closely at the causes of cancer.
Cancer and its common causes
There are many different types of cancer. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death and is caused by a number of different factors. It is characterized by a gene mutation.
That means something causes a distortion in the DNA makeup of the cells leading to abnormal growth.
The main causes of cancer
There are many factors that can put someone at high risk of cancer. Some of these factors you have to control over and others you don’t. Most of the time, however, the onset of cancer is not foreseeable.
Some of the known risk factors include a history of the disease in the family, age because the disease is more common among those over 65 years, the environment because pollutants and harmful chemicals are known carcinogens, habits, and other health conditions that may trigger or cause the disease.
As mentioned earlier, cancer is a result of gene mutations. When these are passed down from one’s parents, that is an example of a risk that one has no control over.
All other causes of cancer are a result of mutations that occur after birth, although it is often difficult to pinpoint exactly when, where, and how this occurred. These causes include carcinogens, hormones, smoking, and obesity to name a few.
- Also Read: Air Fryer vs. Convection Oven Comparison
Do air fryers use radiation?
Getting back to our air fryer, we must now determine whether it is linked to any well-documented causes of cancer such as radiation and carcinogens.
Starting with radiation, there are many forms of radiation such as UV, x-ray, and gamma rays, and these have been shown to damage the DNA leading to the onset of cancer.
The two questions we must ask are: how does the air fryer work, and does it emit harmful radiation?
- The air fryer cooks food by circulating hot air around it. This happens without having to immerse the food in oil or water. The hot air is circulated using a fan, and the heat is produced from a hot heating element.
- The food may be cooked with air alone or by adding as little as a spoonful of oil, depending on the food and what is recommended.
- This heat radiation has not been linked to cancer which rules out radiation.
- The questions around air fryers causing cancer have been mostly about a substance known as acrylamide which the National Cancer Association has documents to be a known cause of cancer from laboratory tests conducted on rats.
- This substance is found in plastics and is also produced in food heated to very high temperatures.
- It is understood that deep-fried French fries can produce this substance.
So does an air fryer cause cancer?
Having looked at the operation of the air fryer and some of the documented research results on it, it seems that any scientific evidence does not back the worries about cancer.
The air fryer has not been associated with any of the known causes of cancer except acrylamide which itself is only a probable cause.
So if you are concerned about whether or not it’s safe to continue using your air fryer, you can rest assured that scientific evidence and deduction does not link your air fryer with increasing the risk of cancer.
Is air fried food healthy?
Now that we have established that your appliance does not cause cancer, we must continue to examine the health benefits of using it and whether there are any negative effects associated with it.
The air fryer was made with the goal of allowing more people to enjoy fried foods without eating unhealthy amounts of oil.
Fast foods such as fries, burgers, nachos, and any other deep-fried foods absorb a lot of the oil they are cooked in.
This puts frequent fried food eaters at risk of diseases and conditions such as obesity and heart disease. These non-communicable diseases are among the top causes of death in Americans.
The air fryer is, in fact, solving a major challenge our generation is facing to combat eating habits, heart disease, and obesity.
In that respect, air fried food is healthier than deep fried food. People can enjoy more of their favorite fried foods without worries about their weight and their hearts.
However, it has been shown that although air fried food is healthier than deep-fried foods, it does not automatically make it a healthy food.
One of the concerns about air fried food is that, because of the high temperatures at which the food is cooked at in the 300-400 F range, valuable nutrients are unable to survive or are reduced. These include vitamins and minerals. This takes away from the food value of the food cooked, be it potatoes, vegetables, or your homemade burger patty.
Because the air fryer has been marketed as a healthy alternative to deep frying, there is also the risk that people will eat lots of air fried foods instead of healthier food types.
It should never be understated that raw, steamed, or lightly cooked vegetables, for example, are a much healthier choice than air fried foods because of their reduced nutritional value.
What are the side effects of using an air fryer?
So, as discussed above, air fried foods are cooked at high temperatures which reduces their nutritional content.
Other things to note are that there is a high chance of burning the food at these high temperatures. The blackened crusts on meat should be removed in these cases because the harmful substance acrylamide is known to be found there.
If you are going to use an air fryer, make sure you read the manual carefully and understand how it works.
It cooks food very fast, which is great, but that can also result in burning the food if you are unfamiliar with how fast the appliance works.
You should, by all means, enjoy some air fried food, but do not substitute it for other forms of cooking nutritious food.
How to use it correctly?
So as we get to the end of this overview on the health aspects of using an air fryer, let’s summarize the correct way to use it. These are some of the things you should do to enjoy maximum benefits.
- Understand how the appliance works before operating it. This will avoid burning the food or harming yourself.
- Watch the food while you cook to avoid burning your meal. It takes only a few minutes to cook food.
- Be careful of hot surfaces and use heat gloves as needed.
- Make sure you find a stable, spacious location in your kitchen for the appliance. It is not a small gadget, but you need to ensure it is safely positioned.
Once you correctly understand how to use the appliance, you can enjoy a number of great benefits.
- You can prepare meals fast. It uses little to no oil, so the cleanup process is quick and relatively mess-free.
- You can use it to cook a wide range of foods—it’s not just for French fries! You can also cook more than one dish at a time.
- It has also been shown that although you might need to make a bit of an investment to buy the appliance, it can work out being cost-effective.
If you have been struggling with your weight and over-indulging on a fast food diet, using an air fryer can be a great way to segway to a healthier eating pattern while still enjoying the foods that you really love.
Despite common beliefs, there is no evidence to suggest that using an air fryer can cause cancer. This popular kitchen appliance has not been linked to any harmful radiation.
In fact, air fried food produces less acrylamide, a probable cause of cancer, than deep fried food.
If you are looking to enjoy some fried food, you can do that guilt-free by air-frying your food. It’s fast and easy to do, but you must never forget that there are better ways to cook food to preserve nutrients and get the balanced meal you need.