So, can you cook heart healthy meals in an air fryer? You may be asking yourself can this air fryer really help me eat fried foods in a heart healthy way?
According to the Cleveland Clinic it can. They state than an air fryer is a healthier way to cook because it eliminates added oils that are shown to cause heart disease and diabetes.
Our Favorite Large / XL Air Fryer Picks
How can an air fryer help to cook heart healthy meals?
Cook without oil.
Before we get into how it affects the food, let’s look at how a fryer works. In an air fryer, there is a fan that blows hot air around your food. This hot air circulates and cooks your food from all sides at the same time. It’s similar to convection cooking in an oven. This causes foods to get crispy while remaining moist inside.
The key to this method of cooking: no (or very little) oil! Air fryers don’t use oil to cook your food; they don’t need it because of their design. The design of an air fryer prevents the “greasy mess” you will get with deep frying foods without oil.
An air fryer won’t give you an identical replica of deep-fried foods, but it does come very close. So what’s wrong with frying in oil anyways? Well, when frying even in healthier oils food absorbs a high amount of the heated grease drastically increasing the calories in the food. If you think about it pan frying even increases the calories a fair amount.
The other problem is that deep-fried foods tend to be high in trans fats or liquid fats that become solid (essentially turning vegetable oil into vegetable shortening in your body) this raises LDL cholesterol and increases the risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
Cook with less salt.
Salt is a risk factor for high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. In fact, many people have high blood pressure because of their diet. It’s hard to avoid high salt levels when you’re eating fast food, canned goods or processed-freezer food, but even if you love making homemade meals, it’s easy to get into the habit of adding too much salt.
An air fryer lets you cook your food in a healthier way. By using an air fryer instead of frying your food in oil or cooking with grain-based breading, you are already drastically reducing your sodium intake. However, air fryers don’t just let you eat healthier–they also help you control how much salt goes into the food that you cook at home. You can decide how much seasoning to add, rather than having to take what restaurants dish out when they prepare your meal or having no choice but to go with a pre-packaged item that has too much salt for good health.
Foods cook quickly with minimal effort.
An air fryer is a unique cooking device that gives you the taste, texture, and speed benefits of fried foods without all the hassle. It uses hot, fast circulating air to crisp up your food without having to deep-fry it in fat, making it ideal for those who want less mess and less grease in their kitchen. There are a few other perks that come from using an air fryer, as well:
- Cooking is convenient because it takes so little time
- You can cook a wider variety of foods in an air fryer than you would with a conventional oven or microwave
- If you live alone and don’t often cook big meals at once, this kind of device can be perfect for quick meals
The fact that an air fryer doesn’t rely on oil means the appliance itself isn’t greasy. Cleaning is easy and straightforward — just wipe down the machine with a damp cloth when you’re done cooking, and if anything sticks to the inner basket, give it a soak in hot water before wiping it down as well. In general, we don’t recommend putting any part of your air fryer into water (unless otherwise directed by the manufacturer), but most parts should come clean easily enough.
Saturated and trans fat are eliminated.
The most enticing benefit of using an air fryer is that you can eliminate the oil without sacrificing flavor. The bottom line: Healthy diets are low in saturated and trans fats, and high in unsaturated fat, according to [the Mayo Clinic](https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550). Saturated fat often comes from animal sources such as butter, whole milk cheese, regular ground beef and pork sausage; trans fat is found in packaged baked goods such as cookies, crackers and frozen pizza. Using an air fryer enables you to prepare healthier versions of favorites like chicken nuggets and French fries. You’ll reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats by eliminating the need for added oil when cooking with an air fryer.
Our Favorite Medium Air Fryer Picks
Versatile and healthy side dishes.
All of the crispy goodness your taste buds know and love, just without all of the unhealthy fat, thanks to an air fryer. If you’re trying to eat healthier, that’s good news for you! The versatility of an air fryer means a wider range of foods you can enjoy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Let’s start with an old fried food favorite: French fries. You may have tried to oven bake fries and never could get them quite crisp enough. This is because the heat isn’t evenly applied to all of the surfaces on a cooking sheet often ending in a mushy mess. The air fryer solves this using convection fans and a basket with holes to allow airflow.
Fried chicken is a favorite we even have a recipe for that here. You can adopt the recipe with a mix of ground flax and almond flour instead of wheat flour for a low-carb, gluten free option. Fried chicken is particularly guilty of adding trans fats due to the amount of oil absorbed into the coating.
Tired of the same old side dishes?
Steamed vegetables are generally so damp bland and uninspired. Air fried vegetables however come out just like pan roasted veggies only quicker and crispier. Try cauliflower, okra, sweet potato fries, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or mushrooms. You can even make some crispy potato chips or chip alternatives.
If you really want to get creative you can try: Cauliflower Fritters (crispy), Okra with Tomatoes (juicy tomato taste) and Sweet Potato Fries. These are hearty sides that everyone will enjoy especially those on a heart healthy diet.
Make your own banana chips by dehydrating in an air fryer.
Buy no sugar added applesauce and make an apple crisp. Just put the sauce in a ceramic ramekin, add some low-fat granola to the top, and put in in the air fryer for 5 minutes at 350 to bake.
Cooking with an air fryer can be a healthy and fun hobby.
Cooking with an air fryer can be a healthy and fun hobby. You can make healthy snacks, main meals, and side dishes with the help of this simple appliance. You can also experiment with different ingredients to make healthier versions of your favorite dishes or snacks. When you cook in an air fryer, you do not need to use a lot of oil because the food is cooked using hot air instead of deep fat frying. It is important to understand how the cooking works so that you can prepare good meals for yourself and your family.
Our Favorite Small Air Fryer Picks
Things to Keep in Mind
Air Fryers cook quickly
Make sure not to try cooking foods for the same length as a normal oven or they will end up burnt.
Owner’s Manual and Recipe Sites
Make sure to read through your owner’s manual and read through information on the internet to get a better idea of how to use your air fryer. Different air fryers are slightly different and heat and power settings can drastically change the outcomes of cooking.
What Are You Cooking in the Air Fryer
If you are trying to eat healthier especially avoiding trans and saturated fats it is best to cook fresh whole food rather than heavily processed foods.
Your heart health is important, so it’s necessary to adopt a heart-healthy diet and cooking method. Heart-healthy foods are usually rich in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, as well as low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol. When you cook these foods using the right methods, you preserve the nutrients that keep your heart in good condition. With the right tools on hand, you can eat better for your heart without making great sacrifices to enjoying delicious food.