Air fryers on their own do not cause cancer and are a healthier alternative to cooking in a deep fryer. However, if food is cooked incorrectly in an air fryer then there is a risk of being exposed to carcinogens.
Air fryers are presented as a healthy alternative for those who love fried food. People are using them to replace the traditional method of deep frying, which is associated with several health risks.
Deep-fried foods have a significant amount of trans fats which, when part of an unhealthy diet, can lead to significant weight gain.
So, it’s no wonder a healthier substitute became so popular. Air fryers do not need large amounts of hot oil to give you similar results to the deep frying process. It takes a small spoon of oil and hot air to enjoy dried foods but without the guilt.
But there is a problem. There has been a reported connection between air fryers and getting cancer but should you be worried? Here we answer the question of do air fryers cause cancer.
Can Air Fryers Cause Cancer?
The appliance itself is not a direct cause of cancer. The issue lies in the ingredients that you cook in the air fryer. The major problem is associated with cooking starch-rich foods such as potatoes at high temperatures.
Starch-rich foods cooked on high heat release a chemical compound called acrylamide. This compound is categorized as a carcinogen, which means a substance that causes cancer.
While acrylamide can be created when using an air fryer, you’ll produce less than you would do with a deep fryer. In this respect, an air fryer is also a healthier option for frying foods when compared to other methods of high-heat cooking.
Acrylamide is a “Group 2A” carcinogen but what does that mean? It means that it has been marked as “probably carcinogenic to humans” but the evidence is not yet solid enough to say it’s definitely linked to cancer.
Other problem foods
Other foods cooked in air fryers can be risky too. Basically, any type of food with high levels of asparagine can pose a danger if cooked at high temperatures. This applies to bread and other whole-grain products cooked in air fryers.
While these foods can be an issue, there are many others that won’t have a chance of creating acrylamide. Foods such as burgers, chicken, fish, and bacon can taste delicious in an air fryer without worrying about any health risks.
How to Reduce Levels of Acrylamide
According to Consumer Council tests, cooking frozen thin French fries at a temperature higher than 250°F showed high levels of acrylamide. These tests showed that the levels of acrylamide will increase with the temperature.
When the temperature was lowered tests indicated a great drop in the levels of natural acrylamide. So, if you avoid frying your potatoes at high temperatures, the levels of naturally produced acrylamide will automatically drop to a safe level.
Cooking under 350°F (180°C) should be enough to give you beautifully cooked starchy foods but without dangerous levels of acrylamide.
Another important tip that helps in reducing levels of acrylamide is to soak potatoes in water for at least two hours before air frying. Soaking reduces the amount of starch in potatoes. This means there would be less released acrylamide when cooked in the air fryer.
Don’t Reuse the Air Fryer’s Oil
There is another possible cancer risk with frying food and that is the risk of reusing oil. Over time, the oil can break down with repeated heating. When it breaks down, it can release different compounds which have been linked to increased cancer risk.
This abused oil can either be inhaled or ingested and can damage your cells. There is also the chance of oxidative stress too, which can damage your DNA. This is why it’s always a good idea to throw away your oil once it has been used.
Thankfully for air fryers, this is quite easy due to the minimal amount of oil that they use. As long as you’re using fresh oil each time, you won’t have to worry about this issue. Changing the oil each time on a deep fryer would be a costly and time-consuming process.
Should I Use My Air Fryer?
Do air fryers cause cancer? Well, not directly but you may be wondering whether you should use one at all. The choice is yours but it’s clear that air frying is healthier than deep frying for more reasons than you may have realized.
The levels of acrylamide will be lower and there is a lower chance that you’ll be using reused oil. That being said, an air fryer can still create acrylamide. If you cook in moderation and follow the advice we mentioned above, then your exposure to acrylamide would be minimal.
While an air fryer is a healthier alternative, it is still fried food and it’s best not to eat too much of it regardless. If you use your air fryer every now and again then the cancer risk it poses will be minuscule.
It’s also important to remember that it hasn’t been conclusively proven that acrylamide causes cancer and a lot of the information we have has been taken from animal studies.
You shouldn’t be scared about using your air fryer but keep in mind that, in a healthy diet, you should be limiting your consumption of fried food anyway.
FAQs On Do Air Fryers Cause Cancer
Should I stop using my air fryer?
No, air fryers are a great way to enjoy tasty fried food. Just use it in moderation and be mindful about cooking starchy foods at high heat.
How can I make healthy French fries in my air fryer?
Cook at temperatures under 350°F (180°C) and renew the oil every time you use the appliance to decrease the amounts of acrylamide.
Should I clean the air fryer after each use?
Yes, you have to get rid of oil residue to avoid oily buildup. You can use a sponge with a bit of soap and water.