Kitchen Shrink: Scare off witchy warts (and other skin foes) with foodie tricks-and-treats

Some of the ingredients for Olive and Pepper Tapenade, as shown before being chopped up.
(Photo by Catharine Kaufman)


Wouldn’t it be lovely to peel off your fake warty nose or Halloween mask and have a pristine complexion underneath? Here are a few remedies to keep your skin radiant, glowing and glabrous.

Warts and all

Those pesky bumps caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) pop up on hands (common warts), soles of the feet (plantar warts), legs and face (flat warts), and other parts. Eating optimally to boost the immune system — particularly by tweaking cell-to-cell communications — will help ward off these unsightly trespassers.

Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula and seaweed are rich with calcium and mighty Vitamin B. Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cherries and blueberries are high in antioxidants.

Citrus fruits, red peppers and orange peppers are loaded with Vitamin C — acting as anti-wart warriors knocking the virus off its feet.

Garlic is just as fabulous a shield against viruses, bacteria, inflammation, and perhaps even the occasional vampire.

Raw garlic is endowed with allicin, a potent sulfur compound with immune-boosting properties.

Oregano, a mighty Mediterranean herb, is another antioxidant powerhouse packed with flavonoids and phenolic acids to scavenge free radicals before they reek havoc on cells. Oregano oil (an anti-fungal, anti-viral and antibiotic essential oil) has been used as a remedy to naturally disintegrate warts by applying topically.

Steer clear of sugary, processed and trans-fatty foods, along with caffeine and alcohol that have been found to feed the virus to keep warts thriving.

Tag along

Those benign yet annoying little pieces of skin that hang around the neckline and other folds have also been linked to the human papillomavirus. Skin tags comprised of blood vessels and collagen wrapped around a layer of skin can be staved off by choice foods, including those rich in antioxidants, and Vitamins A, B and C. Other home remedies have been used directly on the affected area to help dissolve the tags. Try these:

1. Banana peels contain powerful enzymes and antioxidants;

2. Fresh garlic cloves are also loaded with enzymes, but use on off-days from work;

3. Apple cider vinegar, lemon and onion juices are armed with potent acidic properties;

4. Pineapple juice contains the mighty digestive enzyme bromelain, Vitamins A, C, B6 and B5 (pantothenic acid), beta-carotene, manganese and dietary fiber.

Skin in the game

Coping with dry skin is a year-round battle, so load up on fruits, vegetables and fish to keep your skin soft and glowing.

Dial up olives and olive oil with a good supply of squalene — a vital lipid that protects skin against various hazards — as well as oleuropein, a powerful antioxidant that puts the skids on aging, and shields against sun damage.

Juicy pomegranate seeds have a pile of multi-tasking polyphenols to ratchet up blood flow, and reduce inflammation for a smooth, even complexion.

Dark, leafy greens like mustard and collard, rapini, spinach and dandelion (packed with chlorophyll, Vitamin C and beta-carotene) stimulate collagen production and cellular turnover.

Then, of course, cold-water fish — especially wild-caught salmon, herring, perch, anchovies, mackerel and sardines — are abundant in skin-lubricating omega-3 fatty acids. Indulge in three servings a week — whether grilled, poached, baked or pan-fried. Fish can be added to green salads, seasonal soups and hearty risottos; or place on top of crispy flatbreads.

Other honorable mentions include coconut oil, sweet potatoes and citrus of all manners.

Read my lips

To preserve and protect your puckers, eat plenty of healthy, lubricating fats — starting with omega-3 rich walnuts. King of the nut family, walnuts are also a good source of linoleic acid to fortify skin cells — helping to moisturize and prevent dry, scaly patches.

Foods containing the mighty mineral zinc and B-complex vitamins — like beans and legumes, turkey and chicken thigh meat, salmon and assorted seafood — are also excellent for restoring weather-beaten lips.


Recipe: Olive and Pepper Tapenade

Ingredients: 1 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped; 1 orange pepper; 2 large garlic cloves; 1/3 cup olive oil or walnut oil; 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped; juice from one lemon.

Method: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place pepper and garlic on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with oil and bake until tender. Let cool. Dice garlic and cut pepper into small squares. Blend with olives, rest of oil, juice and seasoning. Chill and serve with toasted baguette rounds.

Catharine Kaufman can be reached by e-mail: and see more recipes at