Even the healthiest foods can lose key nutrients during the cooking process. Whether boiled, poached, or grilled, the veggies and meats you love can lose 40 percent or more of their healthy assets when cooked. However, because an air fryer keeps the surface of the food dry and cooks with circulating hot air, this process ensures your food retains more of its key nutrients. So does air frying destroy nutrients? Probably–but not as many as other cooking methods.
Why Air Fry?
In fact, many health sources recommend air frying as an alternative cooking method for dieters hoping to eat the foods they love in a healthier way. An air fryer is not a magical device that can miraculously produce perfectly healthy cuisine, it is a great way to cook foods in a faster, healthier way while protecting the key nutrients you desire for a healthier lifestyle.
Nutrient depletion or alteration typically occurs when foods are cooked at high temperatures for an extended period of time, especially in a moist environment like a pot of boiling water or a deep fryer. This makes the air fryer a no-brainer for a healthy lifestyle since these small appliances ensure fast cook times in dry heat.
Can Nutrients Be Preserved During the Cooking Process?
Unless you eat a clean diet of raw foods, there is no way to preserve all the nutrients in the veggies you love. Any cooking method, from deep frying to grilling, is going to cause some level of nutrient loss, especially when it comes to key vitamins, like C and B. The bottom line? Heat and water alter the nutrients in the foods we eat. That means the cooking process is bound to deplete at least some of the nutritional value found in your favorite veggies.
You must also keep in mind, however, that the cooking process can also make your veggies healthier. When cooked, some foods release more antioxidants and minerals than raw vegetables, according to the Globe and Mail.
Best Cooking Methods for Nutrient Retention
- Air Frying
- Baking or Roasting
Each of these methods is effective for nutrient retention as long as the food is protecting from direct contact with the heat. For example, if you decide to grill your veggies, be sure to wrap them in foil or place them in a protective tin. Similarly, the air fryer basket serves to protect the food so that it never comes into contact with direct heat.
For more information on healthy air frying, see our article, 7 Benefits of Eating Food Cooked in an Air Fryer.
Additionally, an air fryer circulates dry heat, which is less likely to deplete vitamins and minerals found in home-cooked foods than other methods, like deep frying and boiling. In short, you still get all the healthy antioxidants found in healthy vegetables and are less likely to lose key nutrients when you air fry at home.
Cooking Processes Most Likely to Deplete Nutrients
- Deep Frying
When immersed in water, the foods you boil, poach, or deep fry are exposed to hot, wet temperatures for a longer period of time than alternative cooking methods, like air frying. Therefore, it is best to choose a different cooking option than those listed above.
In particular, deep frying is the most likely to be unhealthy and can also be considered dangerous for your health. When fully submerged in fat and calorie dense scalding oil, your food will lose its nutritional value and absorb saturated fat and calories at the same time. Deep fried foods have also been linked to life-threatening diseases like heart disease and cancer.
If its nutrient rich, healthy foods you’re after, then you are better off cooking with an air fryer. Not only does it produce that “fried food” flavor without the guilt, but its rapid air technology is also less likely to deplete the health benefits of the foods you eat when compared to other cooking methods.