Air fryers are praised for being a healthy cooking appliance as it uses very little oil and no radiation.
Being health-conscious, I decided to cook more of my everyday food in an air fryer.
This got me thinking if Air fryers are healthy as advertised? Can they cause Cancer?
Allow me to tell you what I found out!
I am not a doctor or a medical researcher. I am a curious homemaker who is good at secondary research, and have spend hours on this topic. I don’t claim to be an expert, and this article is meant to help people like me who are looking for a simple answer.
Can Air Fryers Cause Cancer?
Although Air fryers by themselves do not cause cancer, the risk of cancer depends on your choice of food and the way it is prepared in an Air fryer.
Keeping that in mind, yes, there is a possibility of cancer development if you do not cook food in the right way in an air fryer and if you frequently eat harmful food (read processed, starchy food).
Possible Cancer Risks When Using Air Frer and Their Solutions
Let me break it down further into the possible cancer risks and their solutions
Increased Intake of Processed Food
Eating a lot of processed food makes you fat.
Obesity (a medical term for fat) has been linked to an increased incidence of cancer and is a risk factor for 12 different types of cancers.
The way out
I know you have love Air frying fries and processed meat but cut down on the quantity of such food.
If, however you want to eat french fries, always choose an Air fryer over deep frying in oil.
According to one study, (and here is the good part) french fries had 75% less fat compared to fries deep-fried in oil.
Air Fryeing Can Produce Acrylamide
Starchy food like potatoes and bread produces acrylamide when cooked at high temperatures.
Acrylamide is a potential cancer-causing chemical (also called carcinogens). They can cause specific mutations in humans that can lead to cancer development.
The Hong Kong food council did a study on twelve models of Air fryers that were available in the market costing between 298 dollars to 2,080 dollars.
It found high acrylamide in French fries cooked in all Air fryers. Some samples had levels higher than the EU benchmark.
In the above video, Nora Tam, chairwoman of the research and testing committee, Hong Kong council, says we should control the intake of food that have been Air fried at high temperature or for a long duration.
The way out
To reduce the acrylamide content, you need to follow a particular cooking method with an Air fryer.
According to Nora, the risk of acrylamide intake can be lowered by adjusting the cooking time and temperature.
Here are four ways to reduce acrylamide content in potatoes :
- Avoid cooking at very high heat. According to Nicholas Lee, who is a personal health leader in Philips ASEAN Pacific, the best temperature to cook fries or frozen is at 180 or slightly below. He also says that if you are cooking fresh potatoes, use 160C for the first half and 180C for the next half duration. This will reduce the quantity of acrylamide formation.
- Soak your potatoes. “If you soak the potatoes in water for some time before cooking it will remove a lot of starch and sugar content that influences the formation of acrylamide,” says Nicholas Lee.
- Don’t store your potatoes in the fridge. Storing potatoes in the fridge at low temperatures increases the amount of acrylamide content. It is best to store potatoes at room temperature rather than freeze them. Our grandmothers got this one right
- A study found pretreating french fries before Air frying with a solution of citric acid, glycine, calcium lactate, etc reduced the generation of acrylamide in potatoes.
Another harmful practice is to not clean away the grease and oil droplets after cooking fatty foods. simply put, letting the oil inside the Air fryer reheat.
Repeatedly heating cooking oil (no matter how much the quantity) results in the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
They make changes in your cells and are linked to cancer of the breast, lung, colon, and prostate.
The risk of cancer lies in both inhalations of fumes of reused oils as well as consumption of reheated oils.
Letting the oil buildup below in the drawer and reheating it can not only be a risk factor for cancer, but it will also worsen the condition for those who are already diagnosed with cancer.
The way out
The good news is that wiping clean the oil buildups reduces the risk of reheating oil inside the air fryer.
As such, Air fryers use very little oil so it’s easy to take care and wipe the oil away.
Remember, even if the quantity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is less, it is still formed inside the air fryer if the oil is reheated.
Using a high temperature to cook fish in an air fryer has been linked to cholesterol oxidation products (COPs) formation. COPs can be a risk factor for heart and other chronic diseases.
But you do not have to worry. According to the same study, adding a mixture of spices to the fish before Air frying reduced the production of COPs.
Also read: Are Air Fryers Bad for Birds?
Why is there a Cancer Warning (Prop 65 Warning) on Air Fryers?
If you read through the packaging of an air fryer, you may find a Proposition 65 warning (with some people also call the cancer warning).
California’s Proposition 65 either know that requires air fryers to specify warnings that can lead to cancer or other issues such as birth defects or other reproductive harm.
Now there is no need to panic if you see this.
As I mentioned earlier, an Air Fryer, by itself, does not cause cancer.
It’s only when you are cooking your food in an air Fryer, and it gets burnt, there is a chemical called acrylamide that can increase the chances of causing cancer (which is something to worry about if you eat burnt food in large quantities and regularly).
Also, air fryers, like many other appliances and consumer products, may contain chemicals covered under Proposition 65.
These chemicals could be found in the materials used to manufacture the air fryer, such as plastic or metal components, non-stick coatings, or electrical wiring.
It is important to note that the presence of a Prop 65 warning on an air fryer does not necessarily mean that the product is unsafe or that it poses a significant risk to users.
The warning is required by California law if even trace amounts of the listed chemicals are present, even if the actual risk of harm is very low or negligible.
Summing up, Air fryers are indeed a healthier choice for cooking compared to deep frying in oil.
As such, Air fryers do not cause Cancer by themselves. They are completely safe in their materials and design.
However, the risk for cancer depends on the type of food and the way the food is made inside the air fryer.
You need to keep in mind a few things like wiping clean all leftover oil, not using excessively high temperatures, and not indulging in processed food regularly.
Please keep safe and follow the techniques mentioned above to steer clear of the possibility of cancer risk while using your Wishing you healthy air fryer.
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