Is It Healthier to Use an Air Fryer?

popcorn chicken in an air fryer

July 11, 2022

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Marissa Winters, MA, RDN

Air fryers are trending because they make food preparation quick, easy and tasty. It’s widely assumed that air-fryer food is healthy, but is this true?

Air fryer vs. deep fried 

Air fryers create food that tastes fried without deep-frying it in oil, which can result in 70 to 80 percent fewer calories than deep-fried foods.

Air-fried foods don’t taste exactly like deep-fried foods, but they’re similar. The outside has the familiar crunch, and the inside is softer.

“For people who want to eat healthy, it’s a good substitute,” says integrative nutritionist, Marissa Winters, MA, RDN. “The air fryer can make foods that people might dislike when prepared conventionally more appealing, for example, air fried fish (unbreaded) for dinner or chickpeas for a snack. While, other people might complain that foods don’t taste exactly like deep-fried dishes.”

How air fryers help people eat healthy

People who want to change their diets may benefit from using air fryers. For the greatest impact, choose nutritious ingredients, like lean protein or vegetables.

Some advantages of cooking with an air fryer include:

  • You’ll eat less deep-fried food. Deep-fried foods are high in calories because they’re cooked in oil, a fat. Eliminating oil from the cooking process significantly reduces fat and calorie intake.
  • You may lose weight. Do you eat deep-fried foods frequently? Substituting lower-calorie air-fried foods may help you lose weight over time.
  • You may avoid trans fat. This unhealthy fat may be present in deep-fried foods, especially fast food. Air-fried versions won’t contain trans fats, which raise “bad” cholesterol levels.
  • You may eat less acrylamide. This substance, which may increase cancer risk, may form when cooking at high heat. Deep frying may cause acrylamide to form in foods; air frying may not.

“An air fryer may help jumpstart a weight-loss journey for people who are obese,” says Marissa. “It may also help anyone who eats fried food regularly to consume less fat.”

Why air fryers may not be as healthy as you think

Don’t assume that air fryers guarantee that you’ll eat healthy. The trendy kitchen gadget may encourage you to limit your diet to nutrient-poor choices.

Using an air fryer to prepare your meals may have some drawbacks, including:

  • You may be encouraged to eat more fried-style foods. An air fryer may encourage you to eat fried-style, breaded foods daily. It’s healthier to eat a varied diet, with salads, beans and fresh produce.
  • You may burn food more easily. Air fryers cook food quickly, so you may burn things if you aren’t careful. Burnt, charred food may contain substances that increase the risk of cancer.
  • You may consume less healthy oil. Moderate amounts of olive oil, a kitchen staple, may raise “good” cholesterol. If you air-fry everything, you may not consume enough of this healthy fat.

“People shouldn’t eat fried-style breaded foods or fries daily, even air-fried versions,” says Marissa. “Don’t forget about other cooking methods, like baking, broiling or steaming.”

Next Steps & Resources:


The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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