Maida is a finely milled and refined and bleached (using chemical bleach) wheat flour, closely resembling cake flour, and used extensively in making Indian fast food, Indian bakery products such as pastries and bread, varieties of sweets and sometimes in making traditional Indian breads such as paratha and naan. It is made from the endosperm (the starchy white part) of the grain, while the fibrous bran is removed in the mill. Originally yellowish in colour, maida is popular in a white color, bleached with benzoyl peroxide, which is banned in China and the European Union (including the UK).
Maida contains Alloxan, the source of which may be direct use as softener or the by-product of the bleaching agent Chlorine dioxide. Maida is often softened using Alloxan which is known to destroy beta cells in the pancreas of rodents and other species, causing Diabetes mellitus.The bleaching agent, Chlorine dioxide, used to bleach flour is reported to produce diabetes-causing contaminant alloxan when reacting with the proteins contained in flour. Studies show that alloxan, the chemical that makes white flour look "clean" and "beautiful," destroys the beta cells of the pancreas.
Maida is also used in Central Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Maida is used also as an adhesive for wall posters in India.
Maida is finely milled flour and is usually refined using a fine mesh of 600 mesh per square inch. In south India where there are no wheat farms - flour from Tapioca is converted it into Maida, Rava,Vermicelli,Sabudhana/Javvarisi etc. This is generally cheaper than those made with wheat. Salem, Erode , Dharmapuri region is very famous for this industry called "Sago" manufacturing.
Pastry flours available in United States may be used as a substitute for maida. Flour of whole wheat, which includes part of the brown outer layer known as bran, is often considered healthier than maida flour as it contains a higher level of dietary fibre (around 2-3g per 100g as opposed to 0.3g in maida flour). Whole wheat flour, which includes the brown outer layer known as bran, is often considered healthier than maida flour, as it contains higher levels of dietary fibre (around 2–3 g per 100 g as opposed to 0.3 g in maida). Pastry flours available in United States may be used as a substitute for maida. Consuming breads and foods made with whole-wheat flours are recommended instead of maida for maximum nutrition, also choosing unbleached white flour is an option.
See also 
- Manu Vipin (Oct 31, 2011). "A life without bread and pasta? Unthinkable!". Times of India. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Gupta, Prabha. Life Without Worries And Illness : 12 Golden Rules For Happy And Healthy Living. Bibliophile South Asia. p. 198.
- ChinaDaily. China bans two food additives in flour.
- Flour Advisory Bureau. FAQ.