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5 Surprising Effects of Cooking With an Air Fryer

The popular appliance can add a crispy texture to your favorite foods, but it also comes with some downsides.

It's safe to say we're in the age of the air fryer. For those who have a deep love of making fried foods toasted to perfection, but don't want the mess of oils and grease, an air fryer can really save the day.

The household countertop appliance uses high-speed fans that circulate hot air evenly to create a crisp exterior on foods, which is similar to the effect of deep-frying. This can result in a healthier method for adding a crunchy texture to your favorite eats. However, the benefits of using an air fryer also come with a few downsides that you may not have considered before.

Here are some of the surprising effects—both positive and negative—you can experience when cooking with an air fryer. And next, don't miss 22 Meals to Melt Belly Fat in 2022.

You can consume less fat and calories.

deep fried

First, let's start with the obvious. Cooking with an air fryer can help make your meals healthier because you're not using any additional oils, which can add an excessive amount of fat. Fats contain more than double the calories (per gram) as carbohydrates and proteins, which isn't ideal if you're looking to prioritize a healthy lifestyle or lose weight.

Luckily, you can still enjoy flavorful, crispy foods with an air fryer and avoid the extra calories that come with frying. One hundred grams of traditionally battered and deep-fried chicken breast contain 13.2 grams of fat, but, cooking with an air fryer can significantly cut down that fat content by using 50 times less oil, Healthline reports. Therefore, you can cook food to a preferred texture and the final product will hold substantially less fat and calories.

Cooking certain foods may cause higher cholesterol.

closeup doctor's hand holding blood sample for cholesterol

When you cook fish at high temperatures in an air fryer, you run the risk of inducing the formation of cholesterol oxidation products (COPs).

Studies have found that COPs are created because the cholesterol in fish breaks down during the cooking process. High cholesterol levels, as well as exposure to COPs, has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other diseases.

It's important to note that research shows this factor strictly applies to cooking fish products.

Air fryers can help you save on energy.

air fryer meal

Unlike a hot oven or loaded stove, an air fryer—also known as a convection oven—contains its temperature and won't spike your energy bill.

If you're utilizing the oven often and/or for long periods of time, you're going to be using up a notable amount of natural gas and electricity. According to CNET calculations, air fryers cost only about 25 cents per hour of cooking compared to the 40 to 50 cents a gas or electric oven costs. On average, the energy efficiency is about 50%, and with the current status of inflation, this may be an important quality when deciding if an air fryer should have a special place in your home.

 16 Crispiest Comfort Food Recipes to Make in Your Air Fryer Tonight

There is a potential risk of food poisoning.

young woman with nausea in all denim outfit sitting on bed
Shutterstock / New Africa

No one should ever have to endure the consequences of food poisoning. Unfortunately, the reason this may happen when cooking with an air fryer is that most directions on the back of food packaging are meant for the temperature and abilities of a deep fryer.

A 2019 study in the Journal of Food Protection compared the levels of salmonella in frozen breaded chicken strips that were cooked in an air fryer, a deep fryer, a toaster oven, or a conventional oven. The researchers found that the air fryer and toaster oven didn't eliminate the bacteria as effectively as a deep fryer did.

You can preserve more nutrients in foods.

air fried potatoes

It's not uncommon to use the air fryer for other foods outside the realm of fried chicken, french fries, or mozzarella sticks. Throwing vegetables in the air fryer can not only give them a more versatile texture and taste, it can also preserve certain nutrients that tend to be compromised during other cooking methods.

Due to the low-fat heating process of a convection oven, one study found that vitamin C, vitamin E, and polyphenols (micronutrients that naturally occur in plants) were retained in veggies (such as fresh potatoes) at a much higher rate compared to other cooking appliance alternatives (deep-frying and microwaving).

These results were attributed to a decrease in the use of oils and a lower risk of fat oxidation—or the breakdown of fatty acids and deterioration of food. Using an air fryer can help protect the nutritional integrity of a home-cooked meal, plus, your ideal foods can remain crispy and tastefully potent with every bite.

Jordan Summers-Marcouillier
Jordan Summers-Marcouillier was born and raised in San Jose, California and now works as a writer in New York, NY. Read more about Jordan