I remember when I first drank Topo Chico. I was on a road trip through Texas, and I thought it was a local brand. When I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle taste and texture. It’s a great mineral water in that regard, for sure. But is Topo Chico healthy?
Topo Chico is a sugar-free, zero-calorie sparkling mineral water that is generally considered healthy. It does not have artificial sweeteners or sugar. However, some consumers have been concerned by a study showing Topo Chico had the highest levels of potentially harmful PFAS of any bottled water tested.
Below, I’ll discuss whether Topo Chico is good for hydration, weight loss, dental health, and more. We’ll look closer at the “natural flavor” in the flavored versions. And we’ll look a bit closer at all this whole “PFAS” situation, too.
Is Topo Chico Good for You?
Here are the 13 questions we’re going to cover on Topo Chico nutrition. Click to skip ahead to any of them—or just scroll down to read it all:
- What Ingredients Are in Topo Chico?
- Is Topo Chico Good for Hydration?
- Is Topo Chico Good for Weight Loss?
- Does Topo Chico Have Artificial Sweeteners?
- Does Topo Chico Have PFAs?
- What Is the “Natural Flavor” in Flavored Topo Chico?
- Does Topo Chico Have Sugar or Carbs?
- Is Topo Chico Bad for Your Teeth?
- Is Topo Chico Low in Sodium?
- Does Topo Chico Have Caffeine?
- Is It Ok to Drink Topo Chico Every Day?
- Is Topo Chico Healthier Than La Croix?
- Is Topo Chico Vegan?
1. What Ingredients Are in Topo Chico?
Let’s start by looking at what Topo Chico actually has in it. We’ll look at their original mineral water, plus one of the “Twist of _______” flavors.
I’ll share my observations after the table:
|Topo Chico Drink||Ingredients|
|Original||Mineral Water, Carbon Dioxide|
|Twist of Lime||Mineral Water, Carbon Dioxide, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor|
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- Topo Chico has very minimal ingredients. Many beverages have long lists of chemical-sounding ingredients—but not Topo Chico. You’re just getting 2 to 4 ingredients.
- Topo Chico is free of sugar. Topo Chico doesn’t have the empty calories from sugar that is found in most drinks, and that’s great. Below, we’ll look more at Topo Chico for weight loss.
- Topo Chico is free of artificial sweeteners. Most artificial sweeteners have been associated with possible health risks, particularly effects on gut health. But with Topo Chico, you don’t have to worry about those.
- Topo Chico has no artificial colors. Many drinks on the market today have artificial colors. These dyes are controversial for safety, causing hyperactivity in some children and possibly other issues. So it’s great that Topo Chico doesn’t have any.
- Flavored Topo Chico drinks have “Natural Flavor.” This doesn’t apply to original Topo Chico but just to the “Twist of _____” flavors. What is this “natural flavor” exactly? We’ll discuss the details below, but it’s generally nothing to worry about.
- Topo Chico is caffeine free. Many sparkling water drinks come with a caffeine boost, but Topo Chico doesn’t seem to have a caffeinated product yet.
- Topo Chico doesn’t have added electrolytes. Mineral water has natural electrolytes, but not as much as sports drinks like Gatorade or especially oral rehydration solutions like Pedialyte. So, if you’ve recently lost a lot of fluids, Topo Chico may not be the best for serious rehydration. See below for more on Topo Chico and hydration.
Overall, the listed ingredients for most Topo Chico drinks are pretty “clean.” There is nothing super processed, artificial, or controversial.
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2. Is Topo Chico Good for Hydration?
Topo Chico can play a role in hydration, as it is mostly water. The only other ingredients it has are natural minerals and carbonation. Even flavored Topo Chico drinks only add natural flavors to that.
However, Topo Chico may not be optimal if you’re acutely dehydrated or at risk of dehydration. In that case, you should probably drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS) like Pedialyte or a homemade ORS—or at least a sports drinks like Gatorade (or Gatorade Zero).
If you’re seriously trying to rehydrate yourself, you’ll need added electrolytes. Topo Chico has some electrolytes naturally, but based on the measurements I found, the sodium is very low. And there is no sugar. Both of those are typically recommended for serious rehydration.
Another thing to note: Just because Topo Chico can help with routine hydration, that doesn’t mean you should replace all your water with it. Read the sections below on natural flavors and whether Topo Chico is bad for your teeth before considering anything like that.
But yes, Topo Chico is hydrating. It’s mostly water. Topo Chico and other mineral waters can count toward your overall “water intake” for most practical purposes.
3. Is Topo Chico Good for Weight Loss?
One of the reasons people choose zero-calorie drinks like Topo Chico is to help with weight management. But this issue can sometimes get complicated.
For example, evidence shows that artificial sweeteners are surprisingly ineffective for weight loss. Some evidence even suggests they can even cause weight gain. This means some “diets drinks” may not actually be great for weight loss.
But is there any reason why Topo Chico wouldn’t be ideal for weight loss?
Topo Chico can be great for weight loss. For every 12 ounces of sugary beverages that you replace with Topo Chico, you will consume about 150 fewer calories. That change alone could cause weight loss over time, even without any other diet or lifestyle changes.
Replacing high-calorie drinks with Topo Chico is essentially the same as replacing them with plain water. Again, the ingredients in Topo Chico drinks—carbonated mineral water and potentially natural flavors—don’t have calories or any known detrimental effect on weight loss.
But always remember: The key to weight loss is your overall calorie balance. If you switch to Topo Chico or other zero-calorie drinks but then you eat a lot more food, you could cancel out the caloric savings and stay stuck in a weight-loss plateau.
If your goal is weight loss, you may want to consider tracking your calories as I describe in this post—or following some of these 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories.
4. Does Topo Chico Have Artificial Sweeteners?
Topo Chico does not have aspartame, sucralose, or any other artificial sweeteners. Topo Chico doesn’t have sugar or stevia, either. The flavors in Topo Chico’s “Twist of ______” flavors come only from “natural flavors.”
Many zero-calorie drinks have artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose. Although those sweeteners are FDA approved, there is some controversy about their long-term impact.
Here are a few of the concerns with artificial sweeteners:
- Studies show consumption of diet drinks with artificial sweeteners was linked to three times higher risk of stroke and dementia.
- There’s evidence that rodents develop cancer when exposed to aspartame over their lifespan.
- Research has linked aspartame to weight gain and increased appetite.
- Sucralose is a migraine trigger for some people. (source, source)
- Sucralose and other artificial sweeteners may increase insulin resistance via multiple mechanisms.
- A breakdown product of acesulfame K (acetoacetamide) may damage the thyroid. (source)
- And more, which you can read about here.
Overall, the long-term health impacts of artificial sweeteners are not fully known. But it’s awesome when a product like Topo Chico can help us avoid all the uncertainty by not using them.
Side note: Erythritol, monk fruit, and stevia seem to be healthier zero-calorie sweeteners. But there are still uncertainties about how the body reacts to them in the longer term. I discussed that a bit in my Zevia soda review.
- Is Topo Chico healthier than diet soda? Topo Chico is generally considered healthier than diet soda. Most diet sodas have artificial sweeteners and other controversial ingredients like artificial colors, caramel color, phosphoric acid, and so on. Topo Chico’s ingredients are simpler and more widely regarded as healthy.
5. Does Topo Chico Have PFAS?
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of chemicals that have been used in many products since the 1940s. However, they were later found to be harmful to humans. And even worse, PFAS were found to accumulate in your body over time. (source)
A few years back, Consumer Reports did a study looking at 12 carbonated water brands for PFAS. Topo Chico had the highest PFAS of any brand they checked at that time, with 9.76 PPT.
This raised eyebrows among Topo Chico lovers, and some authorities at the time suggested cutting back on the drink. But this story continues to unfold.
A 2021 update from Consumer Reports shared some good news—the PFAS content of Topo Chico has been more than halved since the previous study. Apparently, improvements have been made in the filtration process to reduce PFAS in Topo Chico.
However, as of that 2021 update, Topo Chico still had average PFAS levels of 3.9 PPT. That is still significantly above the 1 PPT level advocated by many scientists and activists.
It’s difficult to determine how much risk the PFAS in Topo Chico truly represent. But at this point, it’s possible that drinking high amounts of Topo Chico could lead to PFAS accumulating in your body over time. If so, it could potentially lead to increased risk of cancer, obesity, weak immune system, interference with hormones, and more. (source)
For more discussion of Topo Chico and PFAS, you can read this piece by Peter Attia, MD.
6. What Is the “Natural Flavor” in Flavored Topo Chico?
Drinks like Topo Chico “Twist of Lime” and other flavors only have a few ingredients: Mineral water, carbon dioxide, citric acid, and natural flavor. But what is “natural flavor,” really?
It’s not actual fruit juice, as that would add natural sugar and calories. So, what is it? Unfortunately, I was unable to find any official answer from the company.
However, we may can probably assume it’s similar to how other sparkling water drinks are flavored. If you look at other brands, they usualy say the “natural flavors” are oils, extracts, or “essences” of fruits. LaCroix, Bubly, and Waterloo have all said similar things. So, it wouldn’t be surprising if this was true of Topo Chico, as well.
Still, the lack of details in these companies’ explanations can be concerning to some. Some consumers have concerns about some chemicals that can be legally found in “natural flavors,” such as propylene glycol.
Propylene glycol is a food additive sometimes used as a solvent in “natural flavors.” Legally, it doesn’t need to be listed as an ingredient. But some people are freaked out by the fact that it’s also found in antifreeze and paint.
Some flavored water companies have actually faced class-action lawsuits based on the misleading use of the word “natural” for a product that has propylene glycol in the “natural flavors.” (Propylene glycol is made from fossil fuels.)
Of course, all the chemicals allowed in “natural flavors” are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the FDA. So, everything should be fine, safety-wise. (Propylene glycol seems to be quite harmless, for instance.)
You probably have nothing to worry about with the “natural flavor” in flavored Topo Chico (or any other flavored water). Personally, I drink them, and I don’t worry about it. But admittedly, it’s hard to know for sure exactly what’s in there.
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7. Does Topo Chico Have Sugar or Carbs?
Topo Chico does not have any sugar or carbs. This means Topo Chico is suitable for keto and other low-carb diets. Topo Chico drinks simply have subtle “natural flavors,” or just plain carbonated mineral water. These do not add any calories or carbs. So Topo Chico is generally okay for even the strictest low-carb dieters.
- Can diabetics drink Topo Chico? Topo Chico is generally suitable for diabetics, as it does not have any carbs or sugars. It also avoids potential problems with diet sodas that may worsen carb sensitivity over time by using zero-calorie sweeteners.
- Does Topo Chico break a fast? Topo Chico does not break a fast, as it has no calories. In fact, many people drink sparkling mineral water during a fast because it gives a sensation in your mouth and throat which may help to satisfy hunger without calories.
8. Is Topo Chico Bad for Your Teeth?
Research suggests unsweetened sparkling waters like Topo Chico are only “minimally erosive” to tooth enamel. In comparison, many other flavored drinks are strongly erosive. Although Topo Chico does have “carbonic acid” from its carbonation, it is not very bad for your teeth.
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. So, even though Topo Chico is acidic, it should not powerful enough to damage tooth enamel significantly.
However, many dentists acknowledge that regularly drinking sparkling water could still lead to some tooth erosion. Therefore, if you want to be extra careful, here are some tips for minimizing tooth damage from Topo Chico:
- Don’t drink Topo Chico or other fizzy beverages all day—instead, limit them to meal times, or just once or twice per day.
- Don’t swish your Topo Chico around your mouth or hold it in your mouth for a long time.
- Consider drinking your sparkling mineral water through a straw.
- Rinse out your mouth with water after drinking Topo Chico or other carbonated drinks.
9. Is Topo Chico Low in Sodium?
Topo Chico is relatively low in sodium, with about 15 mg of sodium per bottle, or 41 mg of sodium per liter.
Some popular water drinks available today, like Propel, come with added electrolytes that include sodium. That may be nice if you’re losing a lot of sodium in sweat. But if you’re drinking a lot, that added sodium can really add up throughout the day.
Topo Chico does not have added sodium beyond the somewhat low, natural amount. So, it shouldn’t be a concern for most people. However, if you’re looking for a very low-sodium mineral water, you can find even lower sodium content in other brands.
For example, Perrier is a brand of mineral water with less than 10mg of sodium per liter. So that’s less than 1/4th of the sodium of Topo Chico.
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10. Does Topo Chico Have Caffeine?
Topo Chico does not have caffeine. It is not an energy drink. It is not advertised as providing caffeine, and none of the ingredients have caffeine naturally. Topo Chico should not keep you awake.
Caffeine has pros and cons. Studies show it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But it’s habit forming, and too much can disrupt sleep.
Therefore, it’s not simply “healthy” or “unhealthy” for a drink to be caffeinated. It’s more complicated than that. That said, Topo Chico is not caffeinated.
11. Is It Ok to Drink Topo Chico Every Day?
Drinking Topo Chico every day is likely okay for most people. The biggest concern would just be with consuming too much PFAS over time, as PFAS can accumulate in your body. To avoid that risk, you could rotate Topo Chico with other sparkling water beverages.
As covered above, Topo Chico had the highest level of potentially harmful PFAS of any bottled water brand in a Consumer Reports study.
This is likely not an issue in terms of occasional Topo Chico consumption. But if you want to drink bubbly water every day—and if you want to be extra cautious about it—you may want to rotate in other brands with lower PFAS content, as well.
12. Is Topo Chico Healthier Than LaCroix?
Topo Chico and LaCroix are nutritionally similar. They are both free of calories, sugar, carbs, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors. They are both healthy drinks. Topo Chico may be slightly healthier because of having some naturally occurring minerals, but it’s likely not a big difference.
Nutritionally, Topo Chico and LaCroix are both great. They both avoid all the main nutritional traps that drinks fall into.
The same goes for other sparkling mineral waters like Perrier, Gerolsteiner, and S.Pellegrino. And the same goes for other seltzer waters like Bubly, Waterloo, and AHA. If it’s just carbonated water—or just carbonated water and “natural flavors”—it’s pretty healthy.
13. Is Topo Chico Vegan?
Topo Chico is vegan-friendly. No Topo Chico drinks contain milk, eggs, honey, or any other animal by-products.
In fact, Topo Chico may be even “more vegan” than some competing products, as many competing drinks are sweetened with cane sugar that was filtered with animal bone char. With Topo Chico, there’s no contentious ingredients at all.
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