Topo Chico is a popular bottled mineral water brand with a distinct yellow label that’s bottled in Mexico. The brand sells an unflavored version and three flavored versions.
But what ingredients are used to flavor Topo Chico? Are the drinks bad for you? Is mineral water healthier than regular water? And what do the reports about PFAS in Topo Chico mean?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Topo Chico based on medical studies to give our take on whether the drinks are healthy, or if they’re bad for you.
We’ll discuss whether mineral water is healthier than regular tap water, and explain the research report that found Topo Chico to be high in per-and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) and whether it matters.
The ingredients in the unflavored version of Topo Chico are shown above.
The fact that there are no additive ingredients in this water brand, along with the fact that it’s packaged in glass, make it healthier in our opinion (and better for the environment) than the average water brand packaged in plastic.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in some plastic bottles, and was shown in a 2020 medical review to be estrogenic and hormone-disrupting. BPA can leach into water (or food) from packaging.
The flavored versions of Topo Chico are not naturally flavored with the fruits in their name, but with flavoring additives, as shown in the ingredient list from the “Twist of Lime” Topo Chico drink below:
Citric acid is a preservative and flavor enhancer that’s clinically shown to cause whole-body inflammation in some individuals, as we documented in our Waterdrop review article on another brand that uses this ingredient.
Natural flavor is healthier than artificial flavor in our opinion, but is a broad descriptor that fails to identify the specific flavoring chemicals used.
A medical review published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal suggests that some flavoring additives and their metabolites may have toxic effects.
Overall, we would recommend Topo Chico unflavored but not the flavored versions of the brand based on their ingredients.
But what does it mean that researchers found PFAS in Topo Chico? We’ll share our thoughts on that topic in the next section.
Researchers Find PFAS in Topo Chico
PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they take so long to biodegrade.
Exposure to PFAS has been associated with risk of kidney disease, thyroid dysfunction, insulin dysregulation and other negative health effects according to a medical review published in the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry journal.
Put simply: it makes sense to reduce exposure to PFAS as much as possible.
A study published by Consumer Reports found Topo Chico to have the highest PFAS levels of any bottled water brand tested.
A more recent study published by Consumer Reports found that Topo Chico had reduced its PFAS levels by more than 50%, but that the levels in the bottled water were still “above a cutoff recommended by scientists and advocates.”
An animated YouTube video published by Alaska Public Media is under two minutes long and discusses some potential sources of PFAS in a regular American’s day:
Is Mineral Water Healthier?
Topo Chico is a mineral water, which typically refers to water derived from a mineral spring outdoors.
Mineral water can be higher in minerals than tap water, but not enough to make any significant health difference in our opinion.
As an example, the only mineral listed on Topo Chico’s Nutrition Facts label is calcium at a dose of 40 milligrams (mg). This is one-third of the calcium dose in one single slice of cheddar cheese, according to the USDA.
All things being equal, we would recommend mineral water over regular tap water, but the most important consideration for bottled water sourcing is contamination in our opinion. Minerals can be obtained from food.
Before giving our recommendations for clean water brands, we’ll share a fun video in the next section with a taste test of different bottled water brands:
Good Mythical Morning on Bottled Water
A popular YouTube channel called “Good Mythical MORE” (which is the second channel for “Good Mythical Morning”) reviewed the taste of Topo Chico and compared it to other bottled water brands in a video with over 550,000 views:
Our Clean Water Picks
We recommend drinking filtered water, because filtering tap water at home is not only more environmentally-friendly, but also has been shown in research studies to reduce levels of harmful contaminants like heavy metals and microplastics.
Brita Soho is a countertop water filter that's been shown in studies conducted by ConsumerLab (an independent research firm) to significantly reduce heavy metal levels and entirely eliminate microplastics from drinking water.
Aquasana Whole House Water Filter is our top whole-home solution.
Whole-house filters reduce contaminants in all taps and all showers throughout the house, and are the most thorough way to ensure the purity of drinking and bathing water.