I don't think saturated fat is evil, its just another nutrient. But I don't think its anything special either.. The diet of our paleolithic ancestors was actually very low in saturated fat (7-12% of daily caloric intake) because they mostly ate fish, shellfish and wild game.. The western diet is actually much higher in saturated fat. Many pro-paleo articles, studies and reviews say that the ancestral diet was low saturated fat, i have never seen otherwise, i have looked through pubmed for 3 hours.
Sources: 1) "Estimated Saturated fat intake in ancestral diet: 7.5 - 12% " http://www.ajcn.org/content/91/2/295/T2.expansion.html
2) "Until 500 generations ago, all humans consumed only wild and unprocessed food foraged and hunted from their environment. These circumstances provided a diet high in lean protein, POLYUNSATURATED FATS (especially omega-3 [omega-3] fatty acids), MONOUNSATURATED FATS, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial phytochemicals"
Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14708953
3) "anthropological evidence continues to indicate that ancestral human diets prevalent during our evolution were characterized by much lower levels of refined carbohydrates and sodium, much higher levels of fiber and protein, and comparable levels of fat (primarily UNSATURATED FAT) and cholesterol.
Paleolithic nutrition: twenty-five years later. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21139123
4) "The Paleolithic diet is characterized by lower fat and LOWER SATURATED FAT INTAKE than Western diets; a balanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids; small amounts of trans fatty acids, contributing less than 2% of dietary energy; more green leafy vegetables and fruits providing higher levels of vitamin E and vitamin C and other antioxidants than today's diet and higher amounts of calcium and potassium but lower sodium intake. "
Evolutionary aspects of omega-3 fatty acids in the food supply. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10471132
So why is coconut oil (a saturated fat) so popular in the paleo community? Yes, there are antimicrobial properties, etc but I don't believe its a miracle food. I'm from a culture which traditionally eats a lot of coconut oil (kerala, south india) its the only oil we use, yet we have a high rate of heart disease, among the more affluent classes anyway, who eat more oil. Also, why is coconut oil recommended for cooking? I've heard people say its heat-stable but it has a very low smoke point, the point at which the oil starts to degrade, at just 177 degrees celsius. Extra virgin coconut oil probably has an even lower smoke point. Avocado oil, a healthy monounsaturated oil , on the other hand, has a smoke point of 271 degrees celsius.
Polyunsaturated fats are very fragile and oxidized easily, but monounsaturated fats seem stable, thats why I mostly use avocado oil, macadamia oil (for high heat) and olive oil (for low heat) cooking.
Can someone please tell me why saturated fats like coconut oil and sometimes butter are so populuar in the paleo community when it goes against the central idea of the paleolithic diet - which is to eat what we evolved to eat, what our ancestors ate, and they definitely weren't eating lots of saturated fat.