Air fryers have recently surged in popularity as an alternative to deep frying and baking, but there has been a lot of speculation about their safety. Many people are wondering: does air fryers cause cancer? Although studies on the potential health risks associated with air fryers are still ongoing, this article will delve into different research to provide evidence-based answers regarding whether or not air fryer use can lead to increased risk of cancer.
How Does Air Frying Work?
Air frying is a cooking method that utilizes hot air circulation instead of oil for browning and cooking food. Rather than deep frying, the food is placed in a perforated basket, and the air fryer blows hot air around it. Through the convection effect generated by the air, the food’s exterior is cooked and browned. It is important to note that the air temperature must exceed approximately 320°F to achieve browning, whether it is breaded items like frozen chicken tenders or non-breaded starchy foods like french fries or tater tots.
What Kinds Of Food Can You Cook In An Air Fryer?
The air fryer is versatile and capable of cooking a wide variety of foods. It excels at creating delicious lunches and dinners, making it an ideal tool for both main dishes and sides. When it comes to veggies, options like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and cauliflower all yield incredible results in the air fryer.
Additionally, proteins such as tofu, chicken drumsticks, meatballs, pork chops, fried chicken, and even steak can be cooked to perfection. In the air fryer, you can prepare your favorite dishes like crab artichoke stuffed mushrooms, loaded zucchini skins, spinach artichoke zucchini bites, or bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers in half the usual time.
Indulge your sweet tooth with delectable options like berry crisp, vegan zucchini chocolate cake (moist and amazing!), apple pie “baked” apples, or GF peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. The possibilities are endless with an air fryer.
Does Air Fryers Cause Cancer?
Air fryers do not directly cause cancer, but the process of air frying can lead to the formation of certain compounds, such as acrylamide, which have been associated with the development of cancer. Acrylamide is considered a potential human carcinogen and is generated when food is heated above temperatures of 120 degrees Celsius (120°C) or 250 degrees Fahrenheit (250°F).
This occurs through a series of chemical reactions known as the Maillard reaction, which involves the interaction of sugars and amino acids present in the food. While foods high in carbohydrates like potato chips, French fries, and baked goods contain higher levels of acrylamide, smaller amounts can also be formed when cooking fish, meat, and vegetables.
Benefits Of Air Frying
Lower fat content: Air-fryers use less oil than deep fat fryers, resulting in substantially lower fat content in cooked food.
Weight management: Swapping deep-fried foods for those cooked in an air-fryer can help lower calorie intake, aiding in weight management.
Reduced acrylamide levels: Using an air-fryer can reduce acrylamide, a known carcinogen, by up to 90% compared to deep fat frying.
Improved kitchen safety: Air-fryers eliminate the safety risks associated with heating and handling large quantities of hot oil.
Nutrient preservation: Air frying with convection heat may help preserve nutrients like vitamin C and polyphenols, protective plant compounds.
How To Safely Use An Air Fryer?
- Read the manual: Before using your air fryer, it is important to read the manual for instructions and safety precautions.
- Do not overcrowd the food basket: Leave some space between the food and the heating component in the air fryer to avoid the risk of fire.
- Unplug the air fryer immediately after use: Once you are done cooking, unplug the air fryer to ensure that the heating components remain off and do not accidentally start.
- Use minimal oil: Air fryers require little to no oil for crispy food. Follow the recipe’s recommended amount of oil and avoid adding excessive oil, which can lead to a fire hazard.
- Do not place anything on top of the air fryer: The external parts of the air fryer can get hot, so avoid placing any objects on top of the unit to prevent overheating.
- Provide sufficient clearance: Air fryers have air vents to release heat. Ensure that there is at least five inches of clearance around the air fryer to allow proper airflow and reduce the risk of fire.
- Place the air fryer on a stable surface: Make sure that the air fryer is placed on an even and stable surface to prevent it from toppling over during use.
- Never leave the air fryer unattended while in use: To avoid burning food or potential accidents, always stay in the vicinity of the air fryer when it is in operation.
- Regularly clean the air fryer: Grease and food debris can accumulate over time, so clean your air fryer regularly. Refer to the manual for dishwasher-safe parts and spot clean non-washable components.
- Allow Sufficient Cooling Time: It is advised to wait for at least 30 minutes before cleaning your air fryer after use. This duration allows the appliance to cool down and avoid any potential burns from hot surfaces.
Joe Redburn is the founder of two iconic Salt Lake City gay bars, Club 90 and Trax. He was also responsible for bringing the beer to what became the first Utah Pride celebration. Joe has been a fixture in Utah’s LGBTQ community for over four decades, and his bars have been central gathering places for generations of queer people.