Maida – Bleached Flour (All purpose flour)
Maida or Bleached Flour or All purpose flour forms an almost essential ingredient of many cuisines across the world. Breads, Naan, rotis, dumplings, frankies, momos & wantons are just some of the varied uses for the bleached flour. Bread forms a very important part of our routine diets and is consumed by all and sundry.
This Maida is a derivative of wheat flour itself. Wheat is used in diets across the globe and is considered a part of the staple diet of North India. It is derived by putting the wheat through some specific processes which culminate in us getting to eat this fine white flour.
But is the adage that ‘All that glitters is not Gold’ true in this aspect also? Is Maida really the healthy food that we all should consume? Does it have any side effects which we are yet unaware of? Lets find out.
How is Maida-Bleached Flour (All purpose flour) Made?
Maida is a specially processed flour extracted from wheat grains.
To better understand Maida, we need to first look at the Wheat grain.
Two types of flour can be made from the Wheat grain.
- Whole Wheat Flour:
Prepared by grinding and mashing of the whole wheat grain (Bran, endosperm and germ). It tends to preserve the nutritive value as it contains carbohydrates and proteins along with fibers, vitamins and minerals
- Bleached Flour (Maida):
It is finely milled, bleached wheat flour which is white in color and soft in texture. Made from only the Endosperm part of wheat grain, after separating it from bran and germ. Endosperm being the starchy white part of the grain, is made up predominantly of carbohydrates. After separating the endosperm from bran and germ and milling, it is refined by passing it through a sieve. Initially it is yellowish in color due to presence of wheat pigments. It is then bleached with one of the following bleaching agents like Benzoyl peroxide, Chlorine dioxide, Calcium peroxide, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine Azodicarbonamide, Potassium bromate to achieve the white colour of the maida. A chemical called alloxane is added in the maida to make it soft.
During This Refining Process, wheat flour loses the following essential nutrients
- Half of the beneficial Unsaturated fatty acids
- Vitamin E
- 50% of the calcium content
- 70% of the phosphorus content
- 80% of the iron content
- 98% of the magnesium content
- 50 – 80 % of the Vitamin B complex
- Most of the fiber
Now let us look at the hazardous effects associated with bleaching agents used to make the Bleached flour [Maida]
- Benzoyl Peroxide:
- It interferes with the metabolism of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.
- It also destroys vitamin A and vitamin B from the flour.
- Chlorine Dioxide:
- It destroys the vitamin- E from the flour.
- It causes a significant retardation of the physical growth in children.
- Increases risk of developing asthma and allergies.
- It is actually an industrial chemical used commonly for making the soles of shoes and foamy yoga mats
- Azodiacarbonamide cause rapid breakdown of gluten present in the wheat into Gliadin and Glutenin, both of which increase Gluten intolerance.
- When heated as in case of bakery items it breaks down into two chemicals which are proven carcinogens [Cancer causing agents].
- Potassium Bromate:
- Has toxic effects on kidneys.
- It is a carcinogen responsible for kidney and thyroid cancer
- It is already banned in many countries from European union, UK, US etc.
- Recently in July 2016 the Indian government has also banned potassium bromate use as a bleaching agent in maida.
- Calcium Peroxide: Austalian food additives guide warns people having allergies or asthma to eat flour containing calcium peroxide.
Adverse Health Effects associated with eating of Maida or Bleached Flour
- Diabetes Mellitus:
- Alloxane in the flour destroys Insulin producing cells (beta cells) from pancreas causing Low insulin production which causes Diabetes.
- Also Maida lacks fiber thus the carbohydrate ( sugar) from the flour gets rapidly absorbed. Rapid rise in blood sugar level. Increase secretion of insulin. Insulin resistance. Diabetes mellitus.
- Metabolic Syndrome:
- Maida creates insulin resistance as well as less insulin production due to destruction of insulin producing cells by alloxane.
- Ineffective utilization of insulin leads to Conversion of excess sugar into fats.
- This excess visceral fat deposition causes weight gain, heart problems (atherosclerosis), increase in blood cholesterol levels collectively known as metabolic syndrome.
- Lack of fiber allows rapid absorption of sugar from bleached flour into the blood. This rapid blood sugar rise leads to an increase in insulin secretion.
- This excessive production of Insulin causes excessive formation of body fat causing Obesity.
- Gluten present in the wheat breaks down into gliadin and glutenin during the bleaching process. Gliadin stimulates reward centers thereby increased craving for food- more hunger- more food intake – weight gain
- Risk of Gall Stones:
- Gall stones are usually made up of cholesterol. Fiber in diet does not allow excess rise in cholesterol levels. Food high in maida lacks fiber thus increasing the chances of gall stone diseases.
- Maida causes increase in the Inflammation and pain across the body. Thus whoever suffers from chronic diseases, their pain is increased due to maida consumption.
- Increased Blood Lipid levels
- Heart Attacks:
- Abnormally high bad cholesterol levels cause deposition of fat in the blood vessels of the heart thus narrowing them and increasing the risk of Heart Attacks.
- High levels of gluten in bleached flour leads to higher risk of gluten intolerance and allergy.