Air fryers are the newest must-have kitchen gadgets that claim to help people prepare healthier meals while enjoying the fried tastes and textures of favorite foods. But does this popular cooking appliance make meals healthier? Find out below.

According to Men's Health, the air fryer is enjoying increasing popularity. The selling point of air fryers is they use significantly less oil to make healthier fried foods, which sounds just as good on the dining table as much as it does on paper. There’s even a whole sub-culture of people online who are exchanging recipes and ideas. But how do air fryers actually work?

Frying foods involves submerging the food in oil until cooked. And while air fryers do use some oil, it's significantly less because the air fryer circulates hot air for the cooking process. This is much how a convection oven works. But since the air fryer still does use a small amount of oil, the food can still have the crispy texture people love. So technically speaking, air frying really isn’t frying but are more like oven-baked foods. Browning depends on the type of food and the time to cook it.

What you cook is just as important as how you cook it. Processed foods are not as healthy as vegetables even if air fried. So the nutritional value of food cooked in air fryers depends on its value before you cook it. Experts recommend starting with healthier options like potatoes, chicken, kale and even Brussels sprouts. However, air frying can still make traditionally fried foods a little healthier because of the lower amount of oil used during the cooking process.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, caloric intake from air fried foods can be reduced by as much as 80 percent. An air fryer may also cook food much more quickly than an oven, which is important when you are rushing to get dinner on the table. There also downsides to the cooker to take into account. Air fryers are generally quite small, only allowing you to cook a few helpings at a time. They also cook at very high heat that can result in easily burnt food and burns to the cook if not careful.

If you like the taste and texture of fried foods but are looking for healthier options, air fryers may be the key. But don't overdo it.

Air Fryer
Air fryers can heat, bake, roast and grill various foods, from a whole chicken, vegetables, brownies to snacks like french fries and chicken nuggets, using little to no oil. Djsgmnd/Wikimedia Commons