Saturated fats do not cause heart disease, and are necessary to health.
It would in fact be difficult to entirely avoid these fats. Fat in food is generally a mixture of the three kinds of natural fats. (The other kinds are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.)
Some foods, however, have fat that is primarily saturated: coconut oil, palm kernel oil, butter / milk fat, cocoa butter, lamb fat, palm oil, and beef fat. Other animal and poultry fats are not primarily saturated.
The body uses these fats in cell membranes, the central nervous system including the brain and nerves, vital membrane surfaces such as the lining of the lungs and intestines, and the immune system.
These fats are also important to metabolism. They are necessary to the actual use of the essential fatty acids (the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) and to the use of calcium.
There is no recent evidence that these fats cause heart disease. Old studies lumped together trans fats, which may very well cause heart disease, with saturated fats. These studies have other flaws or have been misinterpreted.
In fact, there is no evidence at all for the lipid hypothesis, the theory that these fats cause heart disease. Medical researcher Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, MD, discusses the lack of evidence in his book Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You.
These fats are very stable, that is: they do not go rancid or spoil easily. They remain in healthy and edible form for long periods of time. (Rancid fats are toxic.)
The more saturated fat in a food, the more stable and long-lasting the fat is.
They don't need to be refined in order to be stored. Refining fats to prevent rancidity removes nutrients and creates toxins.
Here are the top fats, each with the percentage that is saturated:
Coconut oil: 92% saturated
Palm kernel oil: 84%
Butter fat / milk fat: 62%
Cocoa butter: 59%
Lamb fat: 54%
Palm oil: 51%
Beef fat: 50%
Pork fat: 38%
Chicken fat: 31%
Turkey fat: 29%
Cottonseed oil: 29%
Cod liver oil: 21%
The shorthand for each fatty acid is included. The number is the number of carbon atoms; the zero signifies "saturation."
Antimicrobial. Beneficial in the gut. Mostly found in milk fat / butter.
Butyric acid C4:0
Caproic acid C6:0
Antimicrobial. Beneficial in the gut. Beneficial whole-body effects. Used for feeding of malnourished people and people who can't digest fats. Used for energy in the body and not deposited as a fat. A component of human milk. In food, almost entirely found only in coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
Caprylic acid C8:0 used as an antifungal
Capric acid C10:0 also found in milk fat
Lauric acid C12:0 suggested as a conditionally essential fatty acid; used as an antiviral
Myristic acid C14:0 found in coconut oil
Palmitic acid C16:0 used in the heart and lungs
Stearic acid C18:0 used in the heart
Arachidic acid C20:0
Behenic acid C22:0
Lignoceric acid C24:0 used in the brain